"Employment Connect" Scrutinized by State Senate


TALLAHASSEE, Fla Four months after launch, the state’s new 63 million dollar computer system isn’t processing claims any faster or better than the decades old system it replaced. The State Department of Economic Opportunity was grilled by lawmakers today looking for answers.

By its own admission, the state says it’s new 63 million dollar unemployment computer system is only processing 73 percent of the claims it receives each week.

Jessie Panuccio is the Executive Director of Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity.
"Yea, it is pretty close to the performance we were having prior to go live."

Contractor Deloitte is being fined fifteen thousand dollars a day. The fines are continuing until the state is satisfied the system is working. "More than 20 high impact issues from the November 15 list still remain."

Staff is being added to handle calls. An outside contractor has been brought in to advise at a cost of more than three hundred thousand dollars. One state senator called for sanctions against the contractor Deloitte, which has been paid more than three hundred million since 2009.

Sen. Tom Lee is a Hillsborough Republican. "To what extent do we have the ability to freeze them out of doing business with the state of Florida until they've satisfied the terms of this agreement?"

It has been four months to the day since the connect system launched. The Department's own estimate is that between 15 and 17 thousand people who should be getting benefits aren't. But they say that's only a guess. Only a guess because the agency told Senators it isn’t sure reports from the system are accurate.

Sen. Geraldine Thompson, an Orlando Republican, says real people are suffering. "And people have gone for up to nine weeks without any kind of reemployment assistance."

The US Department of Labor is sending in a team to help the state. That team will arrive this week. More than 20 thousand people called the Department of Economic Opportunity on Tuesday. The agency says the call level is an indication of the health of the computer system.


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