The DC Department of Employment Services Division of Unemployment Compensation (DOES) kicked off a pilot project on Dec. 19 to begin its total paperless payment program.

Two thousand unemployment compensation recipients volunteered to participate in the debit card program to safeguard their payments.

According to David Thompson, public information officer for DOES, there are 10,819 claimants that receive paper checks of the total number of 27,669 recipients. By January, 2012, DOES will phase out paper checks and all recipients will either have direct deposit or debit cards.

“DOES is moving away from paper checks to improve its overall business operations. We must be better stewards of federal funds by insuring the security of benefit payments,” said Thompson. “It will also prevent lost or stolen checks and multiple payments.”

The new electronic upgraded system is the department’s way to “go green.” The new system will also catch fraud, save money and become more efficient.

The debit card system will work similar to the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) for youth. “The recipient doesn’t need to have a bank account. The card can be used at any of the thousands of ATMs in the area,” Thompson said.

Lisa Mallory, the new DOES director, said that providing debit cards was one of the agencies top priorities.


Valencia Mohammed

Special to the AFRO