The events of 2020 have exposed critical weaknesses in the public benefits programs Americans rely on to protect our families, communities, and economy. Seventy million people faced jammed phone lines, requests for faxed or physical copies of forms, and overwhelmed websites to access stimulus payments and unemployment insurance (UI) during the pandemic. Better technology may not be enough to guarantee the effective administration of public programs like unemployment insurance, but broken technology is certainly preventing it.
Recent proposals by our panelists’ organizations have identified federal coordination, systems modernization, and deploying digital service teams to clear applicant backlogs as solutions to the UI crisis. State governments and federal agencies could facilitate access to public benefits by collaborating to develop interoperable technology platforms that use open source software and modular design. This strategy would allow individuals to identify themselves digitally and validate their eligibility for benefits with any government agency at a fraction of the current cost.
As Congress pursues long-term recovery efforts in response to the pandemic, a movement is growing for policymakers to dedicate resources and talent to developing the digital infrastructure required to provide faster, smarter, more secure public sector technology systems. Join us on November 19th at 11:30am EST for a lively discussion on the opportunity to prevent future UI crises by reimagining how governments deliver benefits to their citizens.
Panel 1: Launching the Digital Benefits Coalition (11:30-12:15)
Robin Carnahan (@RobinCarnahan)
Fellow, Data + Digital, Georgetown University Beeck Center
Fmr. Secretary of State, Missouri
Amanda Renteria (@AmandaRenteria)
CEO, Code for America
Trooper Sanders (@TrooperSanders)
CEO, Benefits Data Trust
Tomicah Tillemann (moderator) (@tomicahtd)
Director, Digital Impact and Governance Initiative
Panel 2 Identifying Solutions to the Unemployment Insurance Crisis (12:15-1:00)
Adam Bobrow (@afbobrow)
Founder and CEO of Foresight Resilience Strategies
Alyssa Levitz (@USDResponse)
Unemployment Insurance team lead, U.S. Digital Response
Alberto Rodriguez (@Arodalv)
Senior Program Manager, New Practice Lab & PIT University Network
Cori Zarek (moderator) (@corizarek)
Director of Data + Digital, Beeck Center @BeeckCenter