BAM! DOL Guidance Advises States on UI Claims Accuracy in Light of CARES Act

Jerry Ashworth
June 17, 2020 at 09:02:48 ET
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The federal government’s use of acronyms is widespread. We recently became aware of an acronym that, although it has nothing to do with food, bought to mind that famous Food Network chef Emeril Lagasse. Why? Because the acronym mirrors Lagasse’s well-known catchphrase, “BAM!”

Earlier this week, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued programmatic guidance to help ensure the accuracy of claims in the Unemployment Insurance (UI) program made due to the implementation of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. DOL uses the Benefit Accuracy Measurement — also known as BAM — to allow states to select representative samples of payments and disqualifying ineligibility determinations to determine whether they were properly administered to claimants and whether these claimants were paid the proper amounts or appropriately denied. States can then use this information to develop and implement corrective actions to ensure taxpayer funds are spent properly by improving program accuracy. For UI claims that were overpaid, underpaid or improperly denied, BAM determines the cause of and the party responsible for the error, the point in the claims process at which the error was detected, and actions taken by the agency and employers prior to the error.

Because the number of individuals seeking UI benefits has increased, as well as the dollar amount of UI claims being paid, since the passage of the CARES Act, DOL issued the guidance to state workforce agencies to help them “respond to the challenges this surge in demand has presented to BAM data collection efforts.”

According to the guidance, DOL’s Employment and Training Administration urged state workforce administrators to provide the information and attachments requested under the guidance to appropriate program staff to help the state in reprogramming and modifying the BAM software applications to ensure the continued proper operation of the BAM program in spite of the increased UI case workload. The guidance also provides answers to questions received regarding BAM program operations.

“States play a fundamental role in ensuring the integrity of the UI program,” the guidance explains. “In the midst of current extraordinary workloads, it remains vital that states continue to operate their programs, both new and existing, in conformity and compliance with federal laws and guidance and promote program integrity. The BAM program is one of the most important tools to measure UI payment integrity. The large increase in UI workloads and the additional provisions of the CARES Act present unique challenges to the accurate and timely reporting of BAM data. This [guidance] describes the changes that are required in the BAM sample selection, population counts and case management software applications.”

State workforce agencies should be aware of this guidance and make the needed preparations. Perhaps one could say that along with Lagasse’s “BAM!” catchphrase, this guidance could, in essence, harken another one of his catchphrases, “Let’s kick it up a notch!”

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