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Senate Republican Leader blasts Oregon Employment Department for 'bureaucratic failures'

Freshly appointed Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod took aim at both the state's employment agency and Governor Kate Brown for failures in the response to skyrocketing unemployment claims.

Posted: May 19, 2020 4:57 PM
Updated: May 19, 2020 5:04 PM

SALEM, Ore. — On Tuesday, freshly appointed Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod, R-Stayton, took aim at both the state's employment agency and Governor Kate Brown for their response to skyrocketing unemployment claims — which he called "bureaucratic failures."

Girod's statement comes on the same day that the Oregon Employment Department revealed that unemployment has reached a record high of 14.2 percent in the state.

“Senate Republicans have received endless messages from newly-unemployed Oregonians that are suffering. They have not been given the help they were told would be available. Many have called or emailed the Oregon Employment Department hundreds of times, only to wait for an answer that doesn’t come, give up and try again for weeks on end," Girod said.

Last week, the leader of state House Democrats acknowledged similar difficulties for Oregonians seeking to file unemployment claims, urging "bold action" from the Employment Department to address backlogged claims. Unlike Girod, however, Rep. Barbara Smith Warner, D-Portland, did not lay the blame at Governor Brown's feet.

Girod cited multiple audits, including during Brown's tenure as Secretary of State, saying that "each time" the agency was given recommendations that the outdated computer systems should be replaced. Upon closer inspection, only the 2015 audit under Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins — the most recent audit referenced by Girod — specifically recommended that the system be replaced.

That said, Oregon did receive $85.6 million in federal funding in 2009 for OED to make improvements, including updating its computer systems — but the agency appears to have been incredibly slow in using the funding to make those changes.

"Instead of using the over a decade of time to complete the technological upgrades, the project had just started when the COVID-19 pandemic hit," Girod's statement said. "This blatant inaction by Governor Brown and OED is the source of the unemployment debacle Oregonians experience today."

“There is no excuse for this bureaucratic failure on a problem that should have been avoided with ample time and resources, and the responsibility rests with Governor Brown and the Oregon Employment Department," Girod continued. "The people of Oregon deserve better.”

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 42808

Reported Deaths: 664
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah9292163
Marion5929108
Washington583877
Umatilla337645
Clackamas317265
Lane241927
Malheur192738
Jackson17076
Deschutes113613
Yamhill100115
Linn81615
Polk65715
Jefferson6059
Morrow5457
Lincoln51713
Union4682
Benton4456
Klamath4173
Douglas3598
Wasco34816
Hood River2771
Columbia2691
Josephine2693
Coos2510
Clatsop2440
Baker1253
Crook1102
Tillamook700
Curry581
Wallowa462
Lake380
Harney340
Sherman190
Gilliam110
Grant110
Wheeler20
Unassigned00

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Confirmed Cases: 914888

Reported Deaths: 17460
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles3020777027
Riverside669931303
San Bernardino633671073
Orange589801454
San Diego55210877
Kern33928416
Fresno30969439
Sacramento25601491
Santa Clara24425392
Alameda23471462
San Joaquin21729489
Contra Costa18763242
Stanislaus17714398
Tulare17590288
Ventura14330165
Imperial12967336
San Francisco12189140
Monterey1141990
San Mateo11198159
Santa Barbara9827122
Merced9531155
Sonoma9494136
Kings826483
Solano744576
Marin7096129
Madera503774
Placer420757
San Luis Obispo417432
Yolo321959
Butte309552
Santa Cruz280825
Napa196616
Shasta195431
Sutter186512
San Benito144215
El Dorado13514
Yuba132310
Mendocino113621
Tehama8928
Lassen7661
Lake69816
Glenn6713
Nevada6238
Humboldt56810
Colusa5516
Calaveras34218
Amador33116
Tuolumne2754
Inyo23115
Siskiyou2050
Del Norte1801
Mono1802
Mariposa792
Plumas700
Modoc360
Trinity270
Sierra60
Alpine30
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