The U.S. Department of Labor announced Monday awards exceeding a combined $3 million for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to improve unemployment insurance programs.
In all, the agency assigned more than $87 million to 46 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the USVI, to allow state agencies to implement program integrity and system improvement activities, as well as implement or expand reemployment and eligibility assessment programs.
Puerto Rico will receive $1,527,488 while the USVI will receive $1,499,984.
“These grants will allow state agencies to upgrade and enhance their unemployment insurance programs by adopting new technologies, ensuring payments are given to those eligible to receive them and incorporating programs to ensure recipients of unemployment insurance are given the resources they need to find a new job quickly,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez.
To qualify for program integrity funding, states must have implemented or committed to implement a set of required integrity activities. These include the implementation and expansion of State Information Data Exchange System; an enhanced National Directory of New Hire cross-match strategy; Unemployment Compensation for Ex-servicemembers automation; SIDES Monetary and Potential Employer Charges Data Exchanges; as well as other optional strategies identified by the department.
Included in these awards are five state consortia grants totaling approximately $15.8 million for projects designed to improve overall program quality, performance, and integrity. State consortia have also committed to implementing the full range of required integrity activities in order to qualify for UI information technology modernization funding.
Finally, approximately $5 million were awarded to states for the reemployment and eligibility assessment program. Six states are receiving grants to expand their use of REAs, and two states will implement new REA programs.
The REA program introduces claimants to the reemployment services that are available at the American Job Center, helps them to develop an individual reemployment plan, and includes a complete review of the claimant’s eligibility to assist in preventing UI improper payments.
In states that have REA programs, participants are referred to reemployment services that are appropriate for their needs, the agency said.