Florida Unemployment Department In Hotseat Over Site Glitches

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By: Mike Vasilinda
November 5, 2013

Since launching a new unemployment compensation computer system October 15th, the Department of Economic Opportunity has gone from answering about one in three calls to its trouble shooing hot line to just over half the calls coming in. The problems processing claims is making lawmakers impatient. “Director we spent a lot of money to achieve basically almost the same results as a 30 year old system and people are upset,” says Rep. Ed Hooper, R-Clearwater.

Contractor Deloitte told the House committee that Florida poised unique problems because of fifteen hundred special requirements. “We’re catching half of the cost, more or less, in week three, is that correct?” Asked Rep. Ed Hooper.

“That’s what depicted on this slide, yes sir,” said Jennifer Blume, Senior VP Deloitte.

“That is not uniquely improved. That’s substandard at best,” says Rep. Ed Hooper.

Lawmakers did not get the whole story. The agency inadvertently leaked social security numbers for about four dozen people.

Executive Director Jesse Panuccio called it a technical glitch that has been fixed. “That’s something in the computer system was encoded incorrectly and resulted in an inverted disclosure,” says Jesse Panuccio, DEO Exec. Dir.

In 2012 the agency assessed a four and half million dollar penalty against Deloitte, it says fines remain an option going forward.

Last week the agency got just over 132 thousand unique calls about problems. By the agencies own numbers 63 thousand went unanswered.

By: Matt Horn
October 31, 2013

In its 16th day – the new CONNECT unemployment system is still creating problems for out of work Floridians who need unemployment benefits to survive. The state says they are working on fixing issues, while one U.S. politician says he’s working on getting the feds involved.

The new unemployment system is still causing problems for people trying to apply for their benefits.

“We know that some people out there are still experiencing issues and we are working day and night to make sure those issues are solved for those claimants,” said Monica Russell, Department of Economic Opportunity.

The new system – the first of its kind in Florida was unveiled October 15th. Since then – a number of glitches have bogged down the system. U.S. Senator Bill Nelson said he is working to get the Federal Government involved in finding out what went wrong and getting it fixed. In a statement he said: “The main purpose behind this federal-state program is to help stabilize the economy during recessions. But it certainly won’t be of much help in my state if those who have lost their jobs face protracted delays in seeking or receiving benefits.”

The Department of Economic Opportunity responded with talking points.

”As our executive director said yesterday: we welcome any input Senator Nelson or the Federal Government has on our website as we identify and address problems as they arise,” said Russell.

Published reports say the company behind the new system, Deloitte, has had similar problems in at least two other states. The company spent between 20 and 40,000 dollars on seven lobbyists so far this year.

When asked why Deloitte, a company which has had a reputation in the past would you be hired by the state, DEO responded: “We secured the contract through a competitive bid process, we’ve been assured the issues that happened in these other states were not prevalent in Florida.”

The state says they expect any remaining issues to be fixed by Sunday.

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