Improving Employment Development Department efficiency

The California Employment Development Department has been trying to process a 370% increase in unemployment claims amid the coronavirus outbreak.

A strike team assembled to establish a blueprint for improvements at the state's Employment Development Department released the results Saturday of its 45-day review, an outline to redesign claims processing and the customer experience of the unemployed. 

Tasked by Gov. Gavin Newsom in July to find ways to improve the EDD's efficiency, the strike team outlined new methods on how the department's technology systems can be more customer-focused. 

The strike team, led by Yolanda Richardson, government operations secretary, and Jennifer Pahlka, Code for America founder and former U.S. deputy chief technology officer, focused on finding ways to make legitimate unemployment claims move through the process quicker. The team observed teams at work at EDD offices in Sacramento and Rancho Cordova, reviewed training materials and claimant communications, studied call center data, extracted and analyzed data from EDD's many information technology systems and interviewed hundreds of people for their feedback and suggestions, including legislative members and staff. 

Recommendations by the strike team included improving transparency, modernizing document upload, establishing clear metrics to track claims and target source deployment and implementing a plan to reduce the backlog based on data, including increased use of outbound calling to claimants to resolve issues.

These are just the short-term recommendations. 

The long-term recommendations include launching a cross-disciplinary modernization project involving an overhaul of administrative rules and procedures, operations and technology, with the main focus on improving the experience of those filing for unemployment benefits.