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U.S. Department of Labor Removes District’s Unemployment Insurance Benefits High-Risk Designation

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, the DC Department of Employment Services (DOES) announced that the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL), Employment and Training Administration (ETA) removed the agency’s Unemployment Insurance Program’s designation as an “at-risk” grantee on December 5, 2017. The District’s Unemployment Insurance Benefits Division was first designated as “high-risk” in January 2012, with the designation later reduced to “at-risk” in June 2013. The removal of the “at-risk” designation reflects the vast improvements made at DOES during the Bowser Administration. 

“The removal of the ‘at-risk’ designation signifies a very important accomplishment for the UI Benefits Division,” said DOES Director Odie Donald II. “The largest contributor to the District’s success in meeting the Acceptable Level of Performance for First Payment Promptness was the development of a successful, reengineered adjudication process model that expanded the intake process and captured more information at the onset of a claim.”

An “at-risk” designation is given based on a state’s performance and suggests that the state may be in jeopardy of not meeting the Federal statutory requirement to pay benefits in a timely manner. During performance years 2009-2011, the District of Columbia experienced sustained performance issues with respect to First Payment Promptness, resulting in the “at-risk” designation. The District previously failed to meet the Acceptable Level of Performance (ALP) of 87% for the First Payment Promptness measure but has continually improved over the past few years. 

After being designated “at-risk,” an internal strategy was developed to reengineer the District’s adjudication model. This strategy yielded immediate improvement in the Non-monetary Determination Time Lapse measure resulting in a performance outcome of 95.1% during the first quarter of 2014 and a number one national ranking in the measure. By initiating a rigorous set of action strategies to ensure sustainability, the District also began to show steady improvement in the First Payment Promptness measure. As a result of these efforts, the District achieved performance outcomes of 69.5% during the 2014 Performance Year, 75.9% during the 2015 Performance Year, 83.5% during the 2016 Performance Year and 84.2% during the 2017 Performance Year. This improvement has culminated in the District achieving a performance outcome of 90.6%, to date, during Calendar Year 2017.

The Department of Employment Services (DOES) is the District’s lead labor, workforce development agency, and responsible for providing District residents with critical employment readiness and job training services. The agency oversees Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act programming, Unemployment Insurance, the Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program, Project Empowerment, L.E.A.P., Career Connections, and additional supportive programs for veterans and senior citizens. To learn more about the programs and services offered at DOES, visit


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