DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa Workforce Development may have trouble managing money, but its management understands the importance of politeness.
In early March, the agency, which oversees unemployment claims in the state, issued unemployment benefits to 85 people who didn’t ask for them.
According to a March 13 email sent by Regional Operations Manager David Eklund, the plan to recover the improperly issued benefits was simple: Don’t contact any of the lucky 85, just wait to see if anyone voluntarily returns the money.
“We can gladly accept their offer to return the benefits, with a ‘thank you,’” Eklund wrote.
Iowa Watchdog tried to learn how many people returned the unexpected windfall in exchange for a polite “thank you,” but multiple phone calls to Iowa Workforce Development went unreturned.
IWD spokeswoman Kerry Koones did tell the Associated Press the benefits were issued because a computer malfunction prevented the agency’s weekly update of unemployment benefits recipients.
According to Koones, IWD Director Teresa Wahlert decided to issue benefits for the week ending March 8 based on the previous week’s list of qualified recipients, rather than risk delaying the benefits.
Koones said the extra benefits probably amounted to less $27,000, but she was unable to give an exact figure.
“I understand the importance of making sure people who are unemployed get their benefits, but we also need to make sure our system is working right and is forthcoming about any issues it might have,” State Sen. Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines, said.
Petersen has scheduled Wednesday an oversight committee hearing on the extra benefits and IWD’s response to the problem.
“We have a lot of questions we need answered,” Petersen said.
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