2009 — Eligibility Services Becomes Centralized

20th Anniversary of the Utah Department of Workforce Services


In January 2009, the creation of the Eligibility Services Division was announced. Senior leadership formed planning committees, which included hundreds of staff to prepare for the change.

The new division leadership comprised of Jon Pierpont as the statewide director and four assistant directors: Casey Cameron, Dale Ownby, Debbie Herr and John Talcott. They completed a statewide phased recruitment for manager and supervisor positions, whose duties were overhauled to require more technical expertise, including the elimination of the lead position. 

Regional directors and assistant directors identified 1,097 staff that would transition to the new division. These staff were assigned to the new team and completed extensive training. Eligibility Services went live and included a new service delivery model with one statewide call center on June 22, 2009.


Effects from the recession start to show. 228% increased in UI benefits payments. 7.3% average unemployment rate. 16,202 job openings lowest in department history. 87,000 households served by food stamps. 33% increase in food stamps caseload. 153 unemployment insurance benefits staff (from 97 in 2008).
The first Eligibility Services Management Team formed in 2009. 
Founders of the Eligibility Services division. Left to right: Debbie Herr, Dale Ownby, Casey Cameron, John Talcott and Jon Pierpont.
Midvale Employment Center team in 2009.
Program and Training Team for Central Region in 2009.
The Unemployment Insurance Claims Center team from the Central Office in 2009. (Left to Right): Michelle Beebe, Joyce Long, Judy Thatcher, Steve Booth, Heather Willden, Jolynn Badame, Lori Groves.
Eligibility Services management team retreat in 2009.
Kristen Cox, former executive director, talks about how employees helped others during the recession.

Organizational chart example from the newly formed Eligibility Services division.

  • Housing and Community Development (HCD) is among first in the country to utilize the “Stimulus Bill”
  • Humanitarian Center Refugee Project employs and teaches English to refugees at DI Training Centers in Salt Lake 
  • Recession resulted in significantly increased workloads
  • H.B. 174, Rehabilitation Counselor Licensure Bill, is approved by the Legislature
  • Kids In Care program implemented to support job seekers who are not eligible for Workforce Services child care services
  • Penalty and Interest (Unemployment Insurance Special Admin) fund is used for the first time to offset recessionary difficulties and later becomes Job Growth fund
  • Online Automated Reemployment System (OARS) implemented to enhance reemployment support by linking profiled claimants to the eligibility review process
  • Utah recognized for performance excellence in area of Appeals
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