February 12, 2021

Cortez Masto, Colleagues Unveil Plan to Overhaul Unemployment Insurance Technology

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), along with Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), this week introduced the Unemployment Insurance Technology Modernization Act, legislation that would establish a single set of technology and security capabilities for state unemployment offices.

“Nevada has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, with many of its workers still out of work in hard-hit industries like hospitality, and thousands of Nevadans continue to rely on jobless benefits to help support their families,” Cortez Masto said. “I am proud to support a policy that provides resources essential to delivering a more efficient and accessible unemployment system, one that will ensure Nevadans and Americans across the country can access the help they need when they need it.”

BACKGROUND:

This week, Senator Cortez Masto prioritized legislation to promote economic security for Nevada’s workers and the tourism and hospitality industries as we continue to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. The Senator also this week introduced the Sustaining Tourism Enterprises During the COVID–19 Pandemic (STEP) Act, which would modify existing Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant programs to provide direct support to the hard-hit tourism and travel industry to promote economic recovery and help increase public confidence as these industries look to reopen safely in the future.

The Unemployment Insurance Technology Modernization Act:

  • Requires the Department of Labor to work with the technology experts to develop, operate and maintain a modular set of technology capabilities to modernize unemployment compensation technology. 
  • Allows states to use all of the capabilities or choose to use only those capabilities that meet their needs.
  • Helps states ensure timely and accurate delivery of payments and better identify fraudulent claims.
  • Prioritizes user experience, including by requiring consultation and testing with claimants, employers, State workforce agency staff and other users.
  • Requires a study to evaluate unemployment insurance technology needs, with an emphasis on program accessibility and equity.
  • Establishes a new Department of Labor Digital Services Team to expand the Department’s ability to assist states with technological issues.
  • Ensures the use of best practices in cybersecurity, procurement and transparency during and after the development of the technology capabilities.
  • Includes the accessibility requirements for online claim-filing systems.
  • Includes provisions to ensure that the new technology capabilities do not rely on automated decision systems that may produce biased results without impact assessments and public input.

Bill text is available here

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