In an August 2021 Unemployment Insurance Program Letter (UIPL), the United States Department of Labor made approximately $260 million in grants available to state unemployment or workforce agencies to address uninsurance, eliminate barriers to benefit application and reduce backlogs and engage in fraud prevention. The latter has become of particular concern, as over $36 billion in unemployment benefits were lost to fraudsters in 2020 alone.

To obtain these funds, each unemployment agency had to provide a summary of the pain points they were facing. They also had to explain how the grant funding would help them overcome these barriers and provide more equitable access to unemployment benefits. In a March 2022 press release, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that the first round of funding had been awarded to D.C., Virginia, Pennsylvania and Oregon unemployment agencies. Furthermore, the work tiger teams are doing for statewide unemployment agencies is hitting all 50+ states/territories. These teams ensure translation services and disability access for unemployment applications and address bottlenecks while offering ways to improve data.

These tiger teams are extremely valuable in the meantime; however, there are many different ways that unemployment agencies can use these grants to modernize antiquated practices and address various accessibility concerns such as increased backlogs and payment issues or interruptions. However, one of the most pragmatic and impactful approaches involves investing in intelligent document processing (IDP) technologies. 

The main capabilities of IDP are ingesting, classifying and extracting unstructured and semi-structured data from both physical or electronic documents and transforming it into structured data. This can be applications, invoices or letters, etc. IDP eliminates the need for humans to manually review, classify, redact or handle any of the data included in documents. Once in a structured format, the data from the now-searchable file can be exported into any other application or repository with the ability to be archived, searched and analyzed.

An unemployment agency can use this excellent tool to:

1. Improve Forms Processing

Many unemployment agencies have enormous backlogs of benefits requests and other forms. However, it is virtually impossible for them to eliminate these backlogs using manual review processes.

IDP technologies make it possible to increase form processing speeds significantly. This automation will allow a backlogged unemployment agency to resolve outstanding applications and deliver benefits to those in need more quickly. In fact, one state workforce agency was able to cut benefits processing down by 50% by automating manual indexing.

2. Improve Proof-of-Looking Traceability for Job Applications

In most jurisdictions, unemployment benefits recipients must submit job applications to demonstrate that they are seeking gainful employment. However, it is challenging for an unemployment agency to review and verify the legitimacy of benefit recipients’ efforts.

Unemployment agency personnel are already inundated with a backlog of documents to review. As a result, they have neither the time nor the ability to prove job applications. This situation makes it possible for fraudsters or unmotivated jobless citizens to take advantage of employment benefits without actually seeking employment.

IDP technology will drastically reduce the workload on employees by extracting and classifying data from forms faster. This change allows them to combat fraud and verify that recipients are submitting job applications.  

3. Distribute Unemployment Benefits More Quickly

One of the biggest challenges unemployment agencies face is an inability to distribute benefits equitably. Thousands of Americans have to wait weeks to receive unemployment benefits because the average unemployment agency cannot efficiently process applications.

IDP technology can eliminate this bottleneck by facilitating fast and efficient document capture. Numerous government agencies have already leveraged IDP to increase operational efficiency and speed up decision-making. 

4. Automate ID Capture

When processing benefits requests, unemployment agencies must obtain a copy of an individual’s ID in order to verify their identity. While ID capture is a common practice at virtually every unemployment agency, many agencies still use inefficient processes for accomplishing this task.

Intelligent document processing technology can facilitate seamless ID capture, which will lead to decreased processing times while simultaneously helping unemployment agencies fight against fraud. Better ID capture processes will also protect recipients and make it more difficult for fraudsters to file for benefits on their behalf.

5. Improve Mailroom Operations

Historically, mailroom processing is a significant efficiency pain point for all large organizations, not just unemployment agencies. Manual mailroom processing practices are time-consuming, tedious and inefficient.

Conversely, IDP technologies facilitate fast, efficient and error-free mailroom processing. IDP’s automated mailroom processing capabilities have repeatedly been demonstrated in government settings.

6. Process Legal Documents with Better Accuracy

Manual document processing often leads to errors. Even seemingly insignificant errors can have significant repercussions for benefits recipients. 

If an unemployment agency makes an error on an important legal document, delivery of benefits may be delayed. Depending on the severity of the error, applicants may have their claim denied altogether.

IDP technology enables error-free document processing. By reducing the number of errors made during document processing, unemployment agencies can make appropriate decisions regarding benefits eligibility. They can also deliver benefits faster and more efficiently to help their constituents.

7. Digitize Archives

The typical state unemployment agency stores tens of thousands (millions in some cases) of physical documents and has to devote massive amounts of space to accommodate its archives. Physical document management is not only inefficient, but it is costly as well.

By adopting IDP technologies, unemployment agencies can completely digitize their archives. This approach will save space, time and labor. This approach will save space, time and labor because an IDP solution can help agencies completely digitize their archives and send them to a content or records management system.

8. Guard Against Fraud

IDP technology will reduce employee workload, improve document processing efficiency and minimize processing errors. Cumulatively, these benefits will enhance unemployment agencies’ ability to guard against fraud proactively.

Agencies can more effectively verify the identity of benefits seekers. Additionally, IDP technologies will facilitate improved ID capture capabilities and help employees verify that benefits seekers are actually submitting job applications as required.

By leveraging IDP technology to take a proactive approach to fraud, unemployment agencies can ensure that benefits are delivered to Americans in need and are kept out of the hands of scammers or others committing foul play.

How Do I Find the Right IDP vendor?

The National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO) and the General Services Administration (GSA) are primary purchasing mechanisms. With these platforms, states can decide what vendors for unemployment insurance work best. The process is streamlined, and procurement is secure. 

When selecting vendors for IDP, stakeholders should consider the following questions:

1. Is cloud or on-premises software best for us?

Knowing what deployment option you are looking for and what your IDP vendor can provide is essential during the selection process. Stakeholders should consider that the most significant benefit of cloud software is that the customer doesn’t need to incur capital expenditures, such as hardware costs, and doesn’t need to supply their own IT staff to maintain the servers. Cloud technology is often more scalable, flexible and adaptable with faster updates compared to on-premises solutions.

On-premises software offers a good solution to organizations that mandate this type of deployment for security and data privacy reasons or want to connect to legacy systems already in place (cloud solutions have been proven to be just as secure and private). On-premises solutions require company employees to spend working time maintaining it, which incurs labor costs. 

These are just a few factors to consider for cloud vs. on-prem IDP software. Consult with your team to learn what would work best.

2. Does the vendor offer flexible and scalable solutions with knowledge of StateRAMP and FedRAMP certification levels?

They should. Why? StateRAMP is a non-profit corporation aimed at raising the cyber reputation of state and local governments and the citizens they represent. FedRAMP is funded by the Office of Management and Budget, and their focus is on completing the security analysis and deploying a cost-effective, risk-based strategy for the adoption and use of cloud services by the federal government.

Having a vendor that uses technology proven to be highly and rigorously audited by StateRAMP and FedRAMP is not only a sign of trust but will make the purchasing process much faster and easier. As such, working with an organization with scalable IDP solutions and thorough knowledge of these organizations is crucial to the success of your project. 

3. Does the IDP solution integrate easily with other applications? 

Adaptability and modern architecture are important capabilities to optimize any IDP solution. Some document processing solutions today are not easy to integrate with other applications and can be challenging to set up and use and may require significant corrections and excessive supervision.  Buyers should ask about web services APIs, connectors and iPaaS tools that can connect the extracted data to other systems for further insights and eliminate manual data entry into multiple applications.

4. Will the IDP solution improve your workflow? 

Any IDP solution chosen should enable your organization to classify, learn and extract meaning from their documents using AI-based technologies. Using IDP, your team can significantly accelerate document-intensive processes and make the data instantly accessible to various users and systems throughout the organization. This makes handoffs easy and manages turnover training as well. 

The bottom line is that IDP solutions are important for gaining efficiencies in your workflow and reducing operating costs. By automating classification and data extraction tasks, it can lead to better your unemployment agency’s processes and lay the foundation for successful digital transformation initiatives.

Get Automated

Let’s face it. We still have a lot of states that have very outdated practices or none at all when it comes to unemployment insurance. With IDP solutions, state agencies can limit manual document processing and cumbersome phone calls to get their citizens the help they need in these trying times. The future of unemployment agencies lies in automation. IDP can get us there.