A new state audit says the Oregon Employment Department needs to replace the computer systems that process unemployment benefits and taxes.
The audit focuses on two systems, the Oregon Benefit Information System (OBIS), which processes unemployment benefits, and the Oregon Automated Tax System (OATS), which deals with unemployment tax reports from employers.
The audits division, which is overseen by the Oregon Secretary of State's Office, says OBIS and OATS are "inflexible, poorly documented, and difficult to maintain," and that their programming language is "outdated." Both programs have been in use since the early 1990s.
Although OBIS and OATS are largely accurate, the audit says, the systems' age has caused some problems.
Because of its lack of automation capabilities, for example, OATS requires manual oversight to verify the authenticity of tax data. But the employment department has not had the staff resources to provide that oversight. Because of this, in 2014, nearly 2,000 Oregon employers overpaid their taxes by a total of about $850,000. The report claims that more than twice that number may have underpaid their taxes, by a sum of nearly $3 million.
The report notes that these inaccuracies accounted for less than one half of 1 percent of total collected taxes.
Molly Woon, spokeswoman for Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins, says improvements in the employment department have been slow.
"We audited the department in 2003 and in 2012," Woon tells WW. "They're doing the best they can to resolve these longstanding weaknesses."