Florida unemployment vendor under fire

Published: May. 1, 2020 at 5:23 PM CDT
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Governor Ron DeSantis plans to investigate why the state spent $77 million on an unemployment technology system that has cracked under the pressure of the wave of claims caused by the coronavirus.

There is also a call to ban the company behind the technology from a pending state bid until taxpayers get their money back.

At nearly every public event these days, the first question the Governor gets is about the state’s troubled unemployment system.

Friday, he was more forceful than ever in calling for an investigation.

“There’s going to be a whole investigation that’s going to need to be done about how the state of Florida paid $77 million for this thing,” said DeSantis.

After major and costly upgrades to the computer system, the state has sent claimants ten times more cash, just over $598 million, than it did in the previous 30 days.

In recent days the Governor has called the system a ‘clunker’ and said it was designed to fail.

“And we should hold those accountable who built botched systems,” said Rouson.

He’s calling for Deloitte, the company who built the system, to be banned from a pending state bid.

“We should look at the prospects of allowing a company that’s in the shoes of Deloitte, before we grant bids to them,” said Rouson.

The company was late delivering the system back in 2013 and paid $15,000 a day fines.

At the time, Deloitte blamed then Governor Rick Scott’s office for 1,500 design changes.

In calling for the bid ban, Rouson points to the company’s track record, here and elsewhere.

“You can Google their troubles in Massachusetts and Rhode Island and other states where they have either been fired or fined,” said Rouson.

A lawsuit filed last week names Deloitte and seeks to get the company to pay damages to the state and a class of unemployed who have had trouble getting benefits.

A hearing is scheduled next week.