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New Mexico Awarded Over $5.2 Million for UI Integrity

NMDWS receives USDOL grant to bolster overpayment and fraud prevention efforts

For Immediate Release

October 9, 2012

 

Contact: Joy Forehand

505.841.8450

 

New Mexico Awarded Over $5.2 Million for UI Integrity

NMDWS receives USDOL grant to bolster overpayment and fraud prevention efforts

(Albuquerque, NM) – The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions (NMDWS) announced that the department will receive $5,217,504 in additional grant funding from the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) to not only continue efforts to address Unemployment Insurance (UI) program integrity but to take the lead on one of three consortium projects in the country and expand the use of reemployment assessments to assist the long-term unemployed. New Mexico received the fifth highest grant out of more than $191 million awarded to 30 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

“There are exciting and innovative changes happening at the Department of Workforce Solutions, including the implementation of the fully-integrated tax and claims system,” said Governor Susana Martinez. “The USDOL funding will complement the new system and initiatives within the agency to improve the Unemployment Insurance program for both our employers and individuals receiving benefits in between periods of employment.”

“This grant allows us to continue with the programmatic and technical enhancements to the UI program that will help lower the overpayment rate in New Mexico,” said Cabinet Secretary Celina Bussey. “The funding also is an opportunity for New Mexico to share best practices with other states as we move forward with the first simultaneous launch of a tax and claims system in the country.”

Specifically for UI program integrity initiatives, New Mexico received the third highest award in the country, $3,127,115. In order to increase the prevention, detection, and recovery of improper UI payments, system enhancements will include automated, technology-based tools such as the State Information Data Exchange System (SIDES).  This is an electronic-based information sharing platform between the department and employers that will expedite correspondence on why the employment separation occurred.

Part of the $3 million UI program enhancement package will be allocated to the Treasury Offset Program (TOPS). TOPS is a partnership with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to intercept, or offset, federal tax refunds and federal payments for state tax obligations, including the recovery of UI benefits that were overpaid to individuals. Any amounts intercepted and recouped are deposited directly back into the New Mexico Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund.

Another enhancement will include the automation of cross-matches between systems, such as National Directory of New Hires (NDNH) with the new UI system.  The NDNH will increase the detection of claimants who continue to certify and receive benefits after they have returned to work. The grant will also provide increased integration between UI systems and NMDWS Employment Services systems and processes, which will enable enhanced monitoring and enforcement of claimant registration and participation in reemployment services.

New Mexico is the lead state for one of the three consortiums awarded in the country and will focus on joint application development. The nearly $2 million consortium award will provide funding for New Mexico to work closely with Florida and Massachusetts, states with similar UI systems, to have an environment in which they can pool developer and business analyst resources. This will reduce development costs incurred with frequent changes to the UI program including benefit extensions, Tiers, and special programs. These changes can be complicated and time consuming for state agencies to develop and deploy into their systems, and by pooling resources, each participating state can reduce the level of effort and time required for implementing those modifications. New Mexico, Massachusetts, and Florida have already been working in joint collaboration for the SIDES and TOPs projects.

The grant also provides $94,090 for the expansion of re-employment and eligibility assessments. As part of 2012 legislation passed by Congress and signed by the President, new requirements are in place for those applying for extended UI benefits past the standard 26 weeks in New Mexico. Individuals are required to participate in reemployment activities in order to continue to receive benefits, including skills assessments, orientation of services provided at local New Mexico Workforce Connection Centers, and additional help prepare individuals to return to work.

In addition to improving the critical facets of the Unemployment Insurance program in New Mexico, Secretary Bussey’s vision for the department to become more engaged with the business community and to promote the vast array of employment-related services and resources available to citizens across the state. Her vision includes the Department of Workforce Solutions as a leader in and a facilitator of a competitive workforce for the benefit of all New Mexicans.

For additional information about the Unemployment Insurance program and the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, visit www.dws.state.nm.us.

 

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