OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – State leaders are planning to investigate a contracted vendor used by multiple state agencies for the distribution of funds.
“They’re stewards of hundreds of millions of dollars,” said State Senator Mary Boren.
According to Boren, the company isn’t holding up its end of the bargain and is at the center of many of the headaches involving the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.
According to Conduent’s contract with OESC, its job is to distribute unemployment funds to claimants using a debit card, otherwise known as a “Way2Go” card.
“With every contract, you have to prepare for when it goes off the rails,” said Boren.
Boren says the Pandemic exposed fraud, lost cards and for thousands of Oklahomans, little to no help from Conduent.
“Oklahomans have been very consistent in describing their disappointment in how the product that Conduent is offering Oklahoma has failed to meet their needs,” said Boren.
She says the issues are all expected to come to light Tuesday during an Interim Study requested, in part, by her.
State leaders are expected to hear from Conduent representatives, as well as the other state agencies who contract the company out Tuesday morning during an Interim Study requested in part, by Boren.
“What is it within the responsibility of Conduent to increase customer service, to prevent fraud, to be transparent about where the funds are,” said Boren.
Boren says not only are funds not making it to Oklahomans, but money is being taken away by what she calls “unnecessary and unfair” fees charged to those who call with questions or who request a new card be expedited if theirs gets lost in the mail or never shows up.
“There’s been a lot of tears shed over Conduent and what happened with the pandemic and one way that we can make it not so devastating is if we can learn important lessons…I couldn’t allow another year to go by without Oklahoma leaders and lawmakers looking into those terms to make sure we are getting the best terms possible for Oklahomans,” said Boren.
Conduent is also contracted out by the Oklahoma Tax Commission, the Department of Human Services and the state’s Treasury Office.
Representatives from all involved agencies as well as Conduent are expected to speak Tuesday morning at the State Capitol.
KFOR reached out to the OESC for comment on the study. Director Shelley Zumwalt responded with the following:
“OESC will be speaking to the experience the agency has had working with Conduent through Executive Director Shelley Zumwalt’s tenure at OESC. While Conduent does provide services to OESC, the company also provides services to multiple state agencies who will also have representatives on hand at the interim study to discuss their experiences with the vendor.”
On Tuesday morning KFOR received this statement from Conduent:
“As an industry leader in supporting state government programs and providing payment services to constituents, Conduent has provided high-quality service to Oklahoma’s unemployment insurance claimants under extraordinary circumstances and Conduent is committed to doing so going forward. We appreciate the opportunity to participate in today’s Senate committee hearing, during which Conduent officials shared an overview of the company’s role in helping the state respond to record unemployment insurance applications due to the ongoing pandemic. In addition, the company shared actions it has taken — and continues to take — to address such challenges as ensuring adequate staffing levels and helping victims of identity theft and fraud, which has become a rampant nationwide issue during the pandemic. We understand the importance of Conduent’s role in supporting the state’s residents, and we will continue to partner closely with OESC to deliver these critical services at a time of great need.”Senior Director, External Communications, Conduent
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