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Florida calls in the Feds to clean up their $63 million mess

After launching their unemployment benefits website in October 2013, Florida sees less-than-perfect results – and now they’re blaming the developer

As we’ve previously discussed, Florida invested $63 million in creating a new unemployment benefits website. In 2011, the state decided to require its citizens seeking unemployment compensation to file online. At the time, there was no means for them to do so, which meant the state had to build a web-based system more or less from scratch. However, since the site’s launch in October 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor says that claims have dropped nearly 20% – and the complaints keep rolling into Governor Rick Scott’s office.

Floridians unable to recover unemployment benefits

With such a heavy price tag, you’d think there would have been plenty of money available for quality control and field testing. Well, evidently not. Almost mirroring the debacle of the launch of Obamacare, the CONNECT website has not delivered what its developers and state bureaucrats had promised. Having only been available for three months, here’s a sampling of some of the biggest complaints:

  • Calls have dropped substantially, but the length of time per call has increased – which means staffers are unable to help claimants who are calling for assistance.
  • An average of $20 million in unemployment benefits hasn’t been paid to those who’ve filed for benefits and have qualified.
  • Of the benefits checks that have been awarded, the claimants who actually received them experienced severe delays.
  • Many claimants are experiencing so many problems in the filing process that they’re giving up and opting to not even apply, resulting in a decline in claims but leaving many unable to pay their bills.

And with the number of complaints mounting, Florida’s decided to point the finger at the developer, Deloitte Consulting, and call in the feds to pick up the pieces.

Finding a solution to Florida’s online unemployment problems

With Governor Scott looking at a potentially competitive race for re-election this year, Florida’s called in the federal government to pinpoint the problem and fix it – quickly. However, no one really knows how long it’ll take to get the CONNECT website working at an acceptable level. Deloitte has added ten additional programmers to their CONNECT staff, while the Department of Economic Opportunity has signed a $365,000 contract with a second vendor, Capgemini – adding to the already staggering cost of the project.

It doesn’t appear that anyone has an answer right now, but for the sake of the unemployed Floridians seeking their benefits, we hope the problem is solved. And If you’ve experienced problems in obtaining your unemployment benefits, be sure to keep trying. Continue to call and follow up on your claim. If you can’t get an answer, ask to speak with a manager. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t receive the benefits you’re owed.

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