Watchdog agency shares recommendations with Virginia Employment Commission as it conducts ongoing study

Virginia News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The General Assembly’s watchdog agency has been sharing recommendations with the Virginia Employment Commission as its staff conducts a study of the agency, deviating from the traditional practice of waiting until after a report is finalized to suggest ways to improve operational shortcomings.

Staff at the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission revealed the shift while providing a brief update on its ongoing study into VEC on Tuesday.

“We do not usually recommend anything to agencies while a study is ongoing,” Lauren Axselle, the project leader of JLARC’s report, said. “However, during this study we have recommended to VEC leaders that they take specific actions where we have felt confident that the actions will lead to near-term improvements.”

During the presentation, Axselle noted issues regarding VEC’s call center and how the state agency has processed unemployment claims.

“It will come as no surprise that VEC’s call center performance is not meeting industry benchmarks for timeliness. For example, in May, VEC call centers only answered a small minority of the incoming calls,” she explained.

JLARC recommended that VEC leadership consider having a similar model that the Virginia Department of Health’s call center has implemented. Axselle shared that VEC is working on finalizing a contract with the same contractor that has enhanced the performance of VDH’s call center. The move is expected to bring several hundred new call center operators to respond to the high call volume for VEC.

JLARC staff will present an interim report on the study on Sept. 20, two months before the final report is due.

Stay with 8News for updates.

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