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Address validation is helping the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training increase efficiencies

Government agencies traditionally receive a lot of requests from their constituents. However, with shrinking budgets and archaic systems, it can be difficult to manage these requests in an efficient manner. This is the dilemma the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training had to overcome with its Unemployment Insurance Program.

The popular program is intended to help individuals financially when they do not have a source of income. In just one year, the program received unemployment claims from more than 75,000 Rhode Island residents through its 60 call centers.

The challenges facing the program

In an effort to combat fraud and ensure that recipients meet the program’s criteria, the department needed a way to verify unemployment information with each person’s employer. This process required accurate contact information for both the claimant and the employer.

Collecting accurate information wasn’t always possible, however. Most people were unable to provide complete contact information for their employer, or they accidently provided incorrect information. One of the biggest pain points came from mailing addresses. According to Kathy Conti, Unemployment Insurance Program Administrator, “People don't always know their employer's address. They know how to get there, but they might not know the actual street number.”

This seemingly minor issue had major productivity and financial effects on the program. "We used to enter an incorrect address and not know it was incorrect until weeks later when the claim form would be returned by the Post Office," says Conti. In addition to the wasted money spent on postage, the program’s staff would have to investigate the correct address and resend the letter.

The effects of bad contact data were being felt throughout the department. According to Raymond Filippone, Assistant Director of Income Support, "This was more than just a matter of increasing operational efficiency. We have an obligation to protect the Unemployment Trust Fund by making sure we don't send erroneous or incorrectly addressed payments.”

Taking on bad contact data

To address this growing issue, the Rhode Island Department of Labor knew that it needed a solution to validate addresses in real-time. The team selected Experian’s QAS Pro for its robust and industry-leading address validation capabilities. QAS Pro validates addresses against official U.S. Postal Service® data in real time, during data entry. It also provides a drop-down menu of valid addresses, which users can simply highlight and select, thus saving time entering data.

Once call center staff was trained on the software and how to use a ZIP-code-first approach, the department saw immediate benefits. "Our operators like that the addresses appear on-screen from just a few keystrokes," reported Conti. "Street names are already there, correctly spelled, so there is less need to go back and forth over spelling with callers."

In addition, Conti's team has noticed a dramatic reduction in returned checks and claim forms. Staffers are so pleased with QAS Pro that they have incorporated it into another Income Support division, called Temporary Disability Insurance Program.

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