Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Director Josephine Ulengchong and two of the management staff, Carmen Dermody and Kei’ile Mikel received termination letters from the new State Workforce Development Board (new WIOA local board) this week, confirmed the new board chairman Kalistus Ngirturong. Two other staffs, Nglodech Luii whose contract had expired and Missy Maximo whose position have been phased out, were not renewed.
Chairman Ngirturong said that specific reasons for termination could not be revealed but said there were grounds for termination. The terminated employees have 30 days to appeal their termination to the State Board of WIOA. Meanwhile, the investigations into allegations against WIOA staff by Office of Public Auditor and Special Prosecutor are still on-going.
On June 22nd, President Surangel Whipps Jr. temporarily closed the Office of WIOA, and placed all employees on administrative leave, citing complaints of improper distributions of COVID relief funds and the ongoing investigations of Office of Special Prosecutor and Office of Public Auditor. In the June 22nd press release, he revealed that he was also re-organizing the new State and Local boards as the previous ones’ terms had expired in 2020.
“The processing of reports and payments of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance checks are continuing,” stated Interim Director Omdasu Ueki, a president’s advisor who was placed at WIOA as caretaker until Director returns or new one is hired.
“If you have been your filing report and receiving payments, you will continue to do so. There may be a delay due to the fact that we are trying to make up for the lost time, but payments will be coming out,” added Mr. Ueki.
WIOA office implements other programs and so they’ve set up pay schedule where those programs that are not part of COVID relief assistance, receive their checks on same schedule as government paydays and those receiving COVID relief assistance get their checks on non-government paydays.
“But again, the next payment for PUA will not be coming out this Friday but next non-payday Friday. This is because we are still catching up on the work.” Mr. Ueki said that between the initial shutdown to when the staff came back to work to when the board got organized, they lost about 10 days.
Mr. Ueki also reported that checks for PUA recipients are now printed at Finance and no longer printed at WIOA office.
Office of Public Auditor and Office of Special Prosecutor have not finalized or revealed their findings but based on their recommendations to “secure public funds, records and programs”, President Whipps removed and placed employees on administrative leave and re-organized both State and Local Boards with oversight over WIOA.