LANSING, Mich. — Members of the Michigan House and Senate Oversight Committees gathered at the Capitol on Thursday for a joint session to look into the reported $8.5 billion dollars lost to fraud by the state's Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA).
The members didn't get many answers from the UIA Director Julia Dale.
"The report is bad enough, your response to it has been worse and that's a tall task to do," said Rep. Steven Johnson to Dale during the hearing.
Johnson has been leading the charge to find out how Michigan's UIA lost a reported $8.5 billion to fraud over the course of the pandemic.
"As a taxpayers and a career public servant, I share your outrage at the level of fraud and criminality that took place," Dale said during her testimony.
Dale is only in her third month leading the agency. She said that about 97% of the money lost, was federal dollars— not state. But much of her testimony was met with clear frustration.
"We have questions that they just won't answer and you know it frustrates me," said State Rep. Jack O'Malley.
O'Malley said although this will be a long process, the investigation isn't over.
"There's nothing about government that moves quickly," he said. " I think the next steps is our chairs will talk but I think there are questions— how do we get answers from these lower directors, and some of the answers to the questions we had today? And if we can't get them, then how do we go from there?"
Unfortunately, there weren't a whole lot of answers on Thursday. Officials wanted to know who made decisions regarding guidelines, who was in charge of specific departments and what the state's responsibility is at the end of all this.
To many questions, Dale simply said she didn't know.
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