Report to the General Assembly - April 2024

May 29, 2024

The Honorable Glenn Youngkin
Governor, Commonwealth of Virginia
P.O. Box 1475
Richmond, Virginia 23218

The Honorable R. Creigh Deeds
Chair, Senate Commerce and Labor 
Senate of Virginia
P.O. Box 396 
Richmond, Virginia 23218

The Honorable Adam Ebbin
Chair, Commission on Unemployment Compensation
Senate of Virginia
P.O. Box 396
Richmond, Virginia 23218

The Honorable Jeion A. Ward 
Chair, House Labor and Commerce
Virginia House of Delegates
P.O. Box 7310
Hampton, Virginia 23666


Demetrios J. Melis, Commissioner

Outstanding Adjudications & All Issues on Claims from 2020/2021

Dear Governor, Chairmen and Madam Chair:

Per the 2023-2024 Budget of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) is required to provide a quarterly report on the plan to resolve outstanding adjudications with issues established in 2020 and 2021 to the Governor, House Labor and Commerce, the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, and the Commission on Unemployment Compensation. This letter serves to meet that requirement.

Resolving Outstanding Adjudications and All Issues on Claims from 2020/2021

As was stated in the previous three adjudication reports, there remain no outstanding claims in potential fraud and adjudication with issues established in 2020 or 2021. While the VEC has implemented many transformation initiatives that have allowed for progress within adjudication, as well as other departments, the agency is still working to become a Best-in-Class agency when resolving incoming and future claims.

The Unemployment Insurance Benefits teams is focused on meeting and then exceeding the U.S. Department of Labor benefits timeliness and quality standards. For the months of January through March of 2024, 82.8% of all first payments were issued within the 14-to-21-day window, a core performance measure set by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Additionally, VEC has exceeded expectations in timely decision-making, with 83.8% of all determinations issued within the timeframe specified by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Decision timeliness measures the promptness of all rendered decisions, with the DOL mandating that 80% of decisions be issued within 21 days from the date of detection. Workstreams continue to be adjusted based on the current level of adjudication staff and incoming claims. There is not a need to hire additional staff to resolve outstanding claims.

Update on the Office of the Unemployment Compensation Ombudsman

Dear Governor, Chairmen, and Madam Chair:

Per the 2023-2024 Budget of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Virginia Employment Commission is required to provide a quarterly report to update the General Assembly, Governor, House Labor and Commerce Committee, Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, and the Commission on Unemployment Compensation regarding the Unemployment Compensation Ombudsman hereinafter referred to as ‘Chief Customer Advocate.’ This letter serves to meet that requirement.

With nearly two years of activity completed and with significant transformations and business process improvements undertaken at the VEC, we found it a prudent time to reassess the Chief Customer Advocate’s office and explore strategies to expand our customer base and enhance our impact. The Chief Customer Advocate will now have a larger programmatic policy advisory role as well as outreach and stakeholder engagement responsibilities. Additionally, the Chief Customer Advocate’s office will expand collaboration with the newly created Director of Communications role as well as our Plain Language Project team to promote and improve the public’s knowledge of Virginia’s unemployment insurance program, the appeals process, and obtaining timely and accurate escalated assistance when needed.

The Customer Advocate team will now fall under the VEC Customer Contact Center serving as a specialized team with advanced expertise and higher-level decision-making authority. This approach will ensure more expeditious service in addition to improving first-contact resolution. We anticipate this reorganization to be complete by July 1, at which point Customer Advisory Council (CAC) meetings will resume.

During this transition, Customer Advocates have continued to serve as the referral point for members of the General Assembly, in addition to their focus of working with customers. VEC has seen a significant decline in the number of inquiries due in large part to the improved online portal login, improvements to our website, and educational outreach efforts. Customer Advocates typically receive 100 - 120 inquiries per month from Legislators, the Governor’s Office, and the Commissioner’s Office, all of which are promptly processed with no current backlog. Additionally, Customer Advocates receive approximately five requests per month to assist customers facing barriers to receiving assistance.

Over the past several months, the VEC has been actively engaged in education and outreach efforts. We have created physical educational materials providing helpful foundational knowledge about Virginia’s Unemployment Insurance program as well as guidance on how to register online. These materials have been distributed through the network of Virginia Works Offices across the Commonwealth, at community events the VEC has participated, and through partnerships with other entities such as local libraries, public social service organizations, and community groups. To compliment this effort, the VEC is now actively posting educational and informational materials to multiple social media platforms.

I am very pleased with the momentum we are seeing in our service improvements, education and outreach efforts, and the positive and collaborative partnerships we have with other interested stakeholders. I look forward to providing updates on our future progress. 

Information Technology and System Usability Report

Executive Summary

In accordance with the Appropriation Act, Item 370N from Special Session I, 2023, of the Virginia General Assembly, the Virginia Employment Commission is providing its summary report on user feedback and planned and completed system changes to the Unemployment Insurance benefits information technology system.

VEC continues to make necessary adjustments to VUIS to enhance its customer centric features. Across all methods of feedback, the most common problem that previously existed but has been resolved was registering or logging into the online portal.

In January of this year, VEC went live with its implementation of an alternative third-party login method for customers to access our online services, called This effort has significantly increased online claim filings resulting in more timely eligibility determinations and receipt of customer’s first payments. These focused efforts have led to a 288% increase in initial claims filed online since January 2023. Initial claims filed online for the first quarter of 2024 continue to trend upward and stand at 62%, which is up from 45% as of the last quarterly report. Since the implementation of in January of 2024, over 35,000 claimants have used it, which led to the substantial increase in online initial claim filings since January 2023.

The improved access to our online services provides even further downstream customer service and experience improvements for our Customer Contact Center (CCC), addressing the second most common feedback theme, challenges with getting through to a customer service representative. Previously, over half the calls fielded by the CCC related to problems registering or logging into our online portal. We have had a one hundred percent increase in access to the UI Direct portal for initial claim filing. Since the introduction of, call volume has decreased by 47% resulting in significantly lower wait times and improved ability of callers to reach a customer service representative on their first call.

VEC's Customer Contact Center recently developed an in-house knowledge base for employees to use in assisting customers which will further improve the customer experience by shortening wait times and increasing first call resolutions. The VEC previously utilized a third-party tool for this purpose; however, it was costly and did not meet the needs of call center agents. This effort will save the VEC $300,000 per year.

VEC has taken additional steps to boost the customer experience by enhancing all online services. We’ve simplified and redesigned the VEC website homepage for easier navigation, offering tailored pathways for claimants, job seekers, and employers. We're simplifying our most visited pages for clarity and employing plain language for better understanding. Furthermore, we're collaborating with a vendor to rebuild the website with a sharper focus on user experience and accessibility. The following represent some notable VEC communication, outreach, and education initiatives:

  • Utilizing social media, we're consistently promoting the benefits of with engaging graphics and video. Additionally, we have been using this medium to provide general education about the UI qualification and determination process.
  • Proactively reaching out to customers via text and email, educating them about the benefits of using for quick and easy online claims filing.
  • Created informative postcard brochures on benefit eligibility and which have been distributed to Virginia Works (DWDA) field offices across the Commonwealth. These cards are also being shared with other touchpoints like libraries, food pantries and at town hall events. Our partnership with has earned media attention from multiple outlets amplifying awareness of as a new login method for customers and the agency's commitment to enhancing the customer experience.
  • Updated the UI Customer Manual to make it easier to understand and focus on the claim filing and job search process.

Planned and Completed System Changes

The VEC has established a Performance and Innovation team that has been tasked with thinking creatively to solve everyday issues at the agency and streamline processes to allow for maximum efficiency. The team consists of various members from each department within the VEC who collaborate biweekly to develop innovative ways to improve the VEC from within. Additionally, VEC has continued to explore the use of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) throughout the agency. By expanding our usage of RPA, VEC staff can allocate human resources to areas where they are necessary for resolving complex UI, adjudication, or appeals issues.

The VEC continues to review its security parameters and make the necessary technical changes regarding identity verification and allowing access to the system. The agency continues to work to isolate suspicious activity through multiple factors including the Integrity Data Hub shared by the U.S. Department of Labor. The agency will continue to report its findings to the Commission on Unemployment Compensation and post quarterly updates to its website regarding usability. Other measures the agency is taking to improve usability and communications are listed below:

  • Providing outreach as well as a QR code to direct customers to our alternative log in process using for customers that cannot access UI Direct for traditional log in.
  • The CCC’s Interactive Voice Response system (IVR) is now able to retrieve information from our database and securely provide real-time status updates on a variety of customer inquiries in twelve languages. This includes general UI claims, adjudication, and appeals updates and is available 24/7.
  • The IVR will soon expand to include an Employer IVR option that will allow employers, our second largest customer base, to use some CCC self-service options.
  • Reviewing feedback from customers on their experience with accessing the system to identify areas in registration and claim filing that we can improve.
  • Reviewing the process for claimants to report their last and liable employers in add/reopen claims.