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Audit finds Maryland potentially overbilled millions by unemployment call center vendor

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Posted at 4:08 PM, Jan 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-12 16:12:30-05

BALTIMORE — The Maryland Department of Labor potentially overpaid millions of dollars to a vendor providing unemployment insurance call center support, according to a report by the Office of Legislative Audits.

The vendor, which WMAR-2 News has confirmed as Accenture, billed for 304,575 hours of staff service, however, auditors found the Department had received 262,932 service hours during the period July 2020 to December 2020.

"Using rates in place at the time, this difference in hours received versus billed would represent an overpayment of approximately $2 million," according to the OLA report.

The discrepancy was discovered after auditors requested and reviewed detailed documentation of the individual staff and hours worked, which would've also been available to the Department.

In addition, auditors determined that the Department was overbilled $200,000 in training costs.

Accenture was awarded the contract worth $102 million to provide additional call center staff from April 2020 through August 2021.

While the vendor was hired to assist with the overwhelming number of claimants calling the Department, many still struggled to speak with a live agent.

RELATED: Even with new system, unemployment calls continue to overwhelm phone lines

Complaints about call wait times eventually improved as Accenture trained and supplied additional staff, up to 1,625 agents.

As far as the variance in billing, OLA recommended that the Department obtain and review available detailed data and documentation for all vendor invoices, investigate and resolve any invoice discrepancies, and recover any amounts that are determined to have been improperly paid.

The Department agreed with the recommendation. The agency wrote in response:

"MDOL has received credits from the vendor for the overbilling and is providing that documentation to the legislative auditors. Additionally, MDOL continues to review documentation with the vendor and receive additional credits where appropriate."

WMAR-2 News Mallory Sofastaii requested information on the total amount overbilled and amount credited back. A Department spokesperson did not respond to her specific request, but wrote:

"Through our established review processes, we identified this billing variance and proactively worked with Accenture to ensure all services received by the Department of Labor matched the total amount billed. This issue has been resolved to our satisfaction. The Department of Labor will continue to carefully review all invoices to ensure Maryland taxpayers are getting what they pay for."
- Joe Farren, Chief Strategy Officer, Maryland Department of Labor

Click here to review the full audit report and other findings,