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Three months ago, the S.C. Department of Workforce and Employment (SCDEW) was the subject of a scathing audit by the S.C. Legislative Audit Council (SCLAC) – a report which concluded that the agency owed $782 million to the federal government from its unemployment insurance fund.

This is money that S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley – who oversees SCDEW – has proposed to pay back via a combination of tax hikes on businesses and individual South Carolinians.

Nikki Haley and SCDEW director Abraham Turner.

Why did our state run up such a huge debt in the first place? Easy … because our unemployment rate is one of the highest in America (and because we’re among the worst states in America when it comes to doling out unauthorized payments to ineligible recipients).

Even more damning, the audit discovered that South Carolinians who “took advantage” of the agency’s reemployment services needed an average of 26.5 weeks to get off of the public dole. Those who didn’t use SCDEW took only 22.3 weeks. In other words this agency’s involvement actually extends the amount of time that South Carolinians stay out of work.

“It’s a great day in South Carolina,” right?

Since that audit, FITS has continued to receive reports of fraudulent activity taking place at the agency – which recently rewarded its bureaucrats for their failure with a taxpayer-funded barbecue party at a local park.

Most recently, FITS has discovered that SCDEW has been placed on alert by the U.S. Department of Labor as a result of its “continuous failure to meet the minimum standard of performance” (which might as well be the Palmetto State’s motto).

Apparently the agency is so busing doling out benefits to people who don’t deserve them that it’s falling behind schedule.

Below is an internal agency email obtained by FITS which outlines the problem …

From: Robinson, Laura
Sent: Thursday, June 14, 2012 10:45 AM
To: Area Directors; DEW Staff Managers; UISupervisors
Cc: King, Dennis
Subject: Critical Failure & Immediate Actions Needed
Importance: High

We failed the month of May for first payment time lapse. It is the worst score we have seen since February 2011. May’s time lapse performance was 60.88%. If that were not bad enough news, the notification by DOL that South Carolina is being placed in the “Marginally At Risk” category because of our continuous failure to meet the minimum standard of performance for three years in a row is. We have reached critical failure, and must take immediate action to reverse course. You will be hearing more on this, but we wanted to get at least this message and the immediate action steps to you right away.

Please read the attached document and begin taking the immediate action steps. There are six attachments to this e-mail:

1. Memorandum from Dennis King & Laura Robinson

2. Copy of Potentially Eligible claims policy

3. Summary of May 2012 time lapse report

4. Comparison chart of time lapse report

5. Error & Issue report spreadsheet

6. Potentially Eligible claims list

Laura Robinson & Dennis King
Assistant Executive Directors
Unemployment Insurance & Employment Services
South Carolina Department of Employment & Workforce

Ouch …

An attached memo refers to the agency’s failure as “extreme.”

“This failure has to stop now. Not next week, not next month, now,” the memo states. “We need everyone to get on board to pull us out of this pattern of failure.”

Interesting … SCDEW clearly hasn’t exhibited the same sense of urgency as it relates to getting a handle on its rampant waste and duplication or the thousands of people who are getting checks that they don’t deserve.

SCDEW was supposed to be a poster child for governmental reform. In fact, its placement in the governor’s cabinet was heralded as the beginning of a new era of efficiency and accountability. Unfortunately, the agency is still every bit as incompetent (if not more) now than it was when it was governed by a legislatively controlled committee.

And Haley and the “Republican-controlled” General Assembly are still passing the buck to us …

About FITS Leaks: The documents used in this report were provided as part of our ongoing “FITSLeaks” series – an effort to get public information (and other newsworthy items) out into the public bloodstream as quickly as possible. Got a document, photo or tip you’d like to submit? Email our founding editor Will Folks ( or send it via our contact page ( All submissions are anonymous …