Mays, speaking to Exchange Club, says system upgrades at IDES saving state millions

By Doug Wilson Herald-Whig
Posted: Jan. 20, 2017 12:01 am Updated: Jan. 20, 2017 11:22 pm
Illinois state agency director said system upgrades now underway will save the state
hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
Jeff Mays, a Quincy resident who heads the Illinois Department of Employment Security, told members
of the Quincy Exchange Club on Friday that modernization and computerization efforts are flagging
fraudulent unemployment claims and are projected to protect at least $120 million each year.
“This is the biggest untold story of the (Gov. Bruce) Rauner administration. This is happening in state
government, and almost nobody knows about it,” Mays said.
IDES is requiring that all employers with at least 25 workers are going to have to file monthly reports
that list their employees. Previously the reports were made quarterly and went to the U.S. Department of
Labor before they were returned to the state agency.
“We would crossreference
the names on the list, but by the time we found out someone was working
somewhere, we had already paid them unemployment insurance claims,” Mays said.
That part of the upgrade alone is expected to save $87 million a year for the unemployment trust fund.
A switch to online filing for unemployment claims also is reducing fraud because it matches up with
computer systems. It also requires that people signing up for unemployment fill out a job registration,
helping assure that filers care about getting another job. That system also can more easily spot people
filing under assumed names or with stolen identities and is expected to save $39 million a year.
About $10 million in savings is expected by streamlining the collection of unemployment insurance
payments into the Illinois Department of Revenue instead of through IDES.
“We’re going to have the best, newest, most robust” online portal with the Department of Revenue
starting in September, Mays said.
Employers who already use the Department of Revenue site to pay corporate taxes will find similar links
to allow them to pay unemployment insurance.
Mays said his agency also will replace a payroll system that has been around since 1975 with a modern
“Not only will this overhaul our payroll system, but it will overhaul accounting, budgeting and human
resources,” Mays said.
Another new website operated by IDES is specially designed to walk high school students through
decisions about their future. The Learn More Earn More site and a career info portal let students see
what different jobs pay, what it costs to live in different communities, and the cost of utilities and other
living expenses.
IDES now has a staff of about 1,100 people. Mays said that is down from about 1,800 employees just a
few years ago.
He said the smaller staff still “touches the lives” of about 600,000 unemployment claimants each year
and 350,000 employers who file quarterly reports.
Mays, a former Illinois House member, also said he is encouraged that the Illinois Senate is seeking a
solution to the state budget impasse.