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Illinois House Republicans call for IDES audit

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Springfield, IL - Several Illinois House Republicans are calling for an independent audit of the state's Department of Employment Security. This comes as nearly 32,500 people applying for unemployment had personal information visible online through a "glitch" in the new IDES system created for independent contractors and gig workers.

Rep. Terri Bryant has been following the issues within the Department since her constituent noticed the issue on May 15. She has consistently asked the Pritzker administration to answer her questions about the data breach, but they still haven't responded. Bryant is disappointed with Gov. JB Pritzker's attitude about the data breach and other "failures" within IDES. She says Pritzker acts like everything is working just fine, treating the data breach as a limited, one-time thing and "no big deal."

"Well, it actually turns out it is a big deal to the people that have been waiting months to file for unemployment only to find out that their state government not only failed to get them the assistance that they desperately need, but that their very identity may have been compromised," Bryant said.

The lawmakers are also concerned WBEZ Radio found Deloitte, the accounting company at the center of the breach, was given no-bid contracts of over $22 million to create and maintain the unemployment system for gig workers.

"Our leaders have a responsibility to see to it that the IDES system works and that the benefits, that were promised to the people who now have no income because of one man's decisions, are available," Rep. Mike Marron (R-Fithian) explained.

What comes next?

The Representatives plan on filing a House Resolution addressing the department's failure and the need for an independent audit. If approved, Illinois Auditor General Frank Mautino will be in charge of the investigation.

"It doesn't matter if you're a Republican or a Democrat asking for this. It's the Auditor General's job to do it," said Rep. Charlie Meier (R-Okawville). "He's done it in the past and we expect Auditor Mautino to do it again this time."

Lawmakers would have to wait until the fall veto session to approve the resolution, but Bryant says Pritzker could request the audit now.

"We don't have to wait until November. But if we have to wait until November, we'll be pressing even at that time," Bryant added. "We're going to press throughout the entire summer to get this resolved."

Marron feels the Pritzker administration doesn't want lawmaker input on the issue. "He needs to be committed to getting the job done. If he had that attitude, there would be no need to call for an audit," Marron said.

Those calling for the audit don't necessarily agree with Rep. Allen Skillicorn's (R-East Dundee) move to recall Pritzker. They just want to resolve the IDES issues.

"We've been very transparent"

Pritzker addressed the calls for an audit during his COVID-19 briefing Thursday afternoon. "Of course, you know that's the right of anybody. But I will just say that we've been very transparent about what the challenges are," Pritzker explained.

"If their goal is to figure out what didn't work right, I have stood here I don't know how many times over the last two plus months and told people what hasn't worked right and how we've been trying to address it."

In a later statement, Press Secretary Jordan Abudeyyah added "not one Republican voted for the FY21 budget that pays for 200+ new employees at IDES."

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Mike Miletich

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