My take: Time for a state Labor Department overhaul


We learned today that a former employee of the Delaware Department of Labor embezzled $187,000 from the unemployment compensation fund.

WHYY reported the case after receiving a tip. The case had not been publicly disclosed, probably due to the suicide of the suspect in the case.

The embezzlement case comes after the State Auditor’s office offered a scathing review of the cabinet department’s financial reporting, calling its books “unauditable” but making no mention of the embezzlement case.

The Labor Department is one of the smallest Delaware cabinet agencies and, like its counterparts in other states, has a less-than-stellar reputation.

Over the years, the Division of Motor Vehicles, the champion of grumpiness, has turned the corner on customer service. That hasn’t happened at the Labor Department, which isn’t grumpy but struggles with other matters. The one exception is its labor market operation, which provides required data and trend reports used in nob stats.

The department seems to lack the financial foundation needed to keep things on track. That’s unfortunate, given the fact that it provides a lifeline to those who have lost their jobs, often through no fault of their own.

True, the department has struggled with the pressures of dealing with Covid-related job payments and a labor shortage that has touched all areas of state government.

Complaints about delayed payments have been numerous over the years and a few have landed here. The department does deal with widespread instances of fraud that slow down badly needed payments.

Still, an overhaul is needed for multiple reasons and needs to be a priority for outgoing Gov. Carney.

The above news also bolsters the case for an independent inspector general in Delaware. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.