DWD partners with Google Cloud to tackle UI backlog

The state is partnering with Google Cloud to assist in Unemployment Insurance claims processing, allowing DWD to release payments faster.

The collaboration with Google Cloud, announced yesterday, will use predictive analytics based on historical data to shorten the time it takes to make decisions on UI claims. Another key feature of Google Cloud’s service is descriptive data analytics, which categorizes claims based on different attributes.

As part of this collaboration, Google Cloud will also deliver a fraud detection and identification service scan, allowing DWD to more strategically work through eligible claims.

“Our top priority is ensuring that all eligible unemployment claims in Wisconsin are paid as quickly as possible,” interim DWD Secretary Amy Pechacek said. “With that focus in mind, I look forward to this exciting collaboration with Google Cloud to further improve our UI processes to better serve Wisconsinites who are out of work through no fault of their own.”

As of Oct. 10, DWD has paid more than 532,000 claimants over $3.9 billion since March 15. But about 80,758 claimants are held up in adjudication by one or more weeks due to multiple issues.

“While the Department has completed an unprecedented number of claims over the past six months, we recognize that the 8 percent of claims still in process represents individuals who are depending on us,” Pechacek said. “This new partnership helps us ensure a more efficient resolution of their claims so that they may care for themselves and their families.”

Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, said this partnership is good progress for unemployed Wisconsinites. However, he expressed frustration that it didn’t happen sooner.

“What the heck took so long?” he said. “It’s sad that it took over 200 days for Gov. Evers’ administration to figure out how to use the cloud and existing technology to improve the processing of claims.”

Nygren noted that in June, his suggestions to the guv and the department to identify simple improvements, like yesterday’s announcement, to speed up the UI process were ignored.

“Instead of being partisan, had Gov. Evers simply listened to Republicans, these improvements could have been made months ago,” he said.

Phase two of the project is set to launch in mid-November, when Google Cloud’s automated technology will help the agency contact claimants and employers electronically. This will significantly reduce the need for scheduled phone calls, according to DWD. The service will also allow documents to be submitted online instead of by fax, streamlining the claims process.

“Google Cloud helps states like Wisconsin to automate routine engagement, provide intuitive online applications and leverage our artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to help address the mounting volume of claims,” said Mike Daniels, vice president, Global Public Sector, Google Cloud. “By partnering with WI DWD, we will help address backlogs and quickly pay claims, providing relief to people in greatest financial need.”

-By Stephanie Hoff