MADISON — The State of Wisconsin is partnering with Google to help process the backlog of unemployment insurance claims in the state.
Google Cloud will be collaborating with the Department of Workforce Development to provide an "expedited" review of unemployment insurance as well as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, the DWD announced Monday.
A department spokesperson explained that Google Cloud's service uses predictive analytics to shorten adjudication decision-making, which DWD says will allow the department to release payments to eligible claimants faster.
As of last Friday, DWD processed 7.4 million claims every week since March 15. That equates to over $3.9 billion paid in UI benefits to 536,000 state residents.
"Our top priority is ensuring that all eligible unemployment claims in Wisconsin are paid as quickly as possible," DWD Transition Director Amy Pechacek said in a statement. "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."
DWD has been criticized for not processing the claims fast enough, as residents struggle with unemployment amid the pandemic. Just last month, Gov. Tony Evers effectively fired his DWD Secretary, Caleb Frostman, over persistent issues processing the claims.
Department of Corrections Deputy Secretary Amy Pechacek is leading DWD until the new secretary is appointed.
According to the DWD on Monday, the partnership with Google will also deliver "a rules-based analytics engine" that will help DWD identify unemployment claims that have the risk of improper payment.
In a second phase of the partnership, Google will roll out an automated technology that will help DWD contact claimants and employers electronically, which DWD hopes will reduce the need for scheduling phone calls. Documents will be submitted online, instead of by fax.
“COVID-19 has created an unprecedented challenge for states as they work through massive volumes of unemployment applications,” said Mike Daniels, vice president, Global Public Sector, Google Cloud, said in the statement. “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. By partnering with WI DWD, we will help address backlogs and quickly pay claims, providing relief to people in greatest financial need.”