2020 EDD Call Data
The Audit Committee asked us to report on certain trends in calls to EDD's call center. Specifically, the Audit Committee asked us to determine trends in the volume of calls received, the time it takes EDD to respond to callers, the percentage of callers connected to an agent, and the number of calls prematurely disconnected. Table A presents call data that EDD provided us for 2020, including the trends the Audit Committee requested. However, EDD does not track the number of calls in which the caller was disconnected. Instead, we present the number of unanswered calls. We determined the number of unanswered calls by combining the number of calls blocked from entering the system, calls that entered the system but were then deflected because an agent was not available to answer, and calls that the caller abandoned before an agent answered.Blocked and deflected calls generally occur during periods of high call volume. Blocked calls were caused by a technological limitation in EDD's old phone system that limited the number of calls the system could handle at once. Deflected calls could occur in EDD's old phone system and can still occur in its new VCC system when EDD does not have enough agents to answer the number of incoming calls and wait times exceed established limits. For blocked and deflected calls, the phone system plays a recorded message telling the caller that EDD cannot take their call and to call back later.
EDD Call Center Metrics for 2020
|Month*||Average Weekly Unique Callers†||Total Calls||Calls Answered by EDD Agents||Percentage of Calls Answered‡||Unanswered Calls§||Percentage of Calls Unanswered‡||Calls to Self-Service Line||Percentage of Calls to Self-Service Line‡||Weekly Average Full-Time Equivalent Agents on PhoneII||Average Hold Time (minutes)|
(12/29/19 – 2/01/20)
(2/02/20 – 2/29/20)
(3/01/20 – 3/28/20)
(3/29/20 – 5/02/20)
(5/03/20 – 5/30/20)
(5/31/20 – 6/27/20)
(6/28/20 – 8/01/20)
(8/02/20 – 8/29/20)
(8/30/20 – 10/03/20)
(10/04/20 – 10/31/20)
Source: EDD reports on call data.
* EDD's call data is summarized weekly, leading to some months with 4 weeks and some with 5 weeks.
† EDD's call data records the number of unique callers in a given week. Therefore, this column records the average weekly callers for each month.
‡ Percentages do not total to 100 percent due to rounding.
§ Claimants whose calls were blocked, deflected, or abandoned ultimately did not speak to an agent; therefore, we have summarized these metrics under the single heading of unanswered calls.
II EDD agents perform both on- and off-phone work in a given week; therefore, the call data records the number of full-time equivalent staff who answered phones each week.
# EDD implemented the first version of its new VCC phone system in April 2020.
Scope and Methodology
The Audit Committee directed the State Auditor in September 2020 to conduct an emergency audit of EDD's response to COVID-19. Additionally, state law authorizes our office to establish a program to audit and issue reports with recommendations to improve any state agency or statewide issue that we identify as being at high risk for the potential of waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement or that has major challenges associated with its economy, efficiency, or effectiveness. In August 2020, we designated the State's management of federal funds related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (federal COVID‑19 funds) as a high‑risk statewide issue, and EDD as a state agency responsible for a portion of that statewide issue. For these reasons, we performed this audit of EDD's UI program. The table below lists the audit objectives and the methods we used to address them.
Audit Objectives and the Methods Used to Address Them
|1||Assess the reasons for backlogged unemployment insurance claims (claims) and the effectiveness of EDD's efforts and time frames for eliminating the backlog, including but not limited to, technological issues and state or federal laws that have contributed to the delay or that prevent EDD from processing claims faster.||
|2||Evaluate the effectiveness of EDD's actions to improve call center performance and response time. This evaluation should also include EDD's hiring, on-boarding, and training efforts to increase call center staffing levels.||
|3||Determine the magnitude of EDD's claims workload, including the number and percentage of claims that were approved, denied, pending, and backlogged since the beginning of the pandemic.||
|4||Assess EDD's call center capacity and determine trends in the volume of calls received, the time it takes EDD to respond to callers, the percentage of callers connected to a representative, and the number of calls where the caller was disconnected from the call.||
|5||Assess the technological infrastructure to determine if it is delaying or preventing EDD from processing claims faster.||Interviewed staff and reviewed documentation, including system performance reports, documents tracking EDD's progress on implementing strike team recommendations, IT Plan of Action and Milestones, correspondence between department staff and the Office of Digital Innovation, and various Benefits Systems Modernization status documents.|
Source: Analysis of state law, planning documents, and information and documentation identified in the table column titled Method.
Assessment of Data Reliability
The U.S. Government Accountability Office, whose standards we are statutorily obligated to follow, requires us to assess the sufficiency and appropriateness of computer-processed information we use to support our findings, conclusions, or recommendations. In performing this audit, we relied on electronic data files and summary reports from information systems that we obtained from EDD's UI and IT branches. To evaluate the data, we reviewed existing information about the data, interviewed staff knowledgeable about the data, and assessed documentation to validate general details about the data. In addition, we reviewed the query that EDD uses to calculate its number of backlogged claims to better understand how the department calculates its reported numbers. EDD was unable to provide a complete description of the query. Further, in light of the short timeframe of this emergency audit, we did not perform detailed testing of the data we relied on. Consequently, we found the data to be of undetermined reliability. Although we recognize this determination may affect the precision of the numbers we present, there is sufficient evidence in total to support our audit findings, conclusions, and recommendations.