(The Center Square) — Following an internal audit, the Georgia Department of Labor has returned more than $105.1 million in unremitted funds to the state treasury.
Labor Commissioner Bruce Thompson authorized the transfer of the funds to the Georgia Department of Treasury on Aug. 3. Officials said the funds began accumulating in fiscal 2014 under the previous labor commissioner.
An announcement from the labor department indicated the agency discovered the funds as part of an investigation into “fraud and unemployment insurance system vulnerabilities.”
“With the new commissioner, there’s going to be some changes in there,” Lt. Governor Burt Jones told The Center Square when asked about the finding. “…Bruce is a good man; he’s a good business guy, and if there were some accounting issues over there, then he’ll get to the bottom of it.”
Thompson is expected to address the news later this week. It marks the latest bit of bad publicity for the state agency.
In June, the labor department suspended its Employer-Filed (Partial) Claims System but was vague on sharing more details. At the time, a spokeswoman for the agency told The Center Square the move was “a proactive measure to safeguard our systems against future fraud.”
Last week, officials said a Fulton County grand jury indicted eight former state employees on unemployment insurance fraud charges.
Prosecutors say the eight submitted false claims and weekly certifications to the Georgia Department of Labor during the COVID-19 pandemic to receive unemployment insurance benefits when employed by the state. According to the State of Georgia Office of the Inspector General, the eight received $170,931 in unemployment insurance benefits and federal supplements.
Separately, in November, the feds announced charges against eight people for conspiring to defraud the Georgia DOL out of tens of millions of dollars in federal funds for unemployment benefits. At the time, an expert told The Center Square that the federal charges exposed the potential vulnerability of the state’s systems.
By T.A. DeFeo | The Center Square contributor