Serving Florida – Constituent Services
|Targeted News Service|
A U.S. senator is calling for a federal investigation into problems plaguing
As reported by major
Today, Nelson asked Labor Secretary
"While states administer their own unemployment compensation program ... they do so under the
Technical problems have reportedly frustrated many unemployed trying to use the CONNECT system featured on the website - right above a picture of the governor.
A spokeswoman in the Scott administration has publicly acknowledged "some users have encountered delays and problems accessing the system.''
Following is Nelson's letter and background news articles:
It is being widely reported that an untold number of Floridians are having trouble applying for unemployment benefits because of problems plaguing the governor's and state's new
While states administer their own unemployment compensation program -
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.
I would ask that you investigate the circumstances surrounding the roll out of the
I am enclosing for your review a few recent media reports outlining more specifically the problems people in
I would also ask that you look into whether the state is doing everything it can to correct problems with its website to meet the needs of all Floridians eligible to receive unemployment benefits.
I look forward to hearing from you on this matter soon. Please feel free to contact me or my counsel
Fla. unemployment website designed by Deloitte also draws complaints
"I'm still stumped,''
"I completed my form. It responded that it was 'pending,' then the screen sent me to 'workforce registration.' But it wouldn't accept my PIN number,'' Boyce said.
Boyce then picked up the phone. "I've been calling their help number since
Boyce isn't alone.
"I've never seen a system with so many breakdowns,'' said
Concerned about the ongoing barrage of complaints, the
A legislative committee also moved this week to create a special commission to investigate how state information technology contracts are awarded and managed.
Deloitte is represented in
A spokeswoman for the
"Nonetheless, and as expected, some users have encountered delays and problems accessing the system,'' said the spokeswoman,
She said the most common problems encountered involve trouble entering PIN numbers or data for the appropriate week payment is sought.
Here we go again. After years of preparation, and millions of dollars spent to set it up, another troubled government website fails to launch properly and leaves thousands of frustrated users facing penalties if they can't access the website in a timely fashion.
Government officials knew there would be problems, but pressed on after delaying the initial launch and spending more than
This time, the problem isn't the fault of Obamacare. This time, the onus falls squarely on one of the biggest critics of federal healthcare reform, Gov.
The website, called CONNECT, is the state's
"Big picture, we feel really good about the rollout so far," DEO chief
Try telling that to the 235,000 Floridians who rely on the webpage, which of late has produced almost as many error messages, long waits and system crashes as benefits. The state DEO hotlines aren't much help, either. Trying to reach a real human voice during the CONNECT rollout has proven difficult.
"They said it was a glitch in system that was preventing me from receiving a payment," Rodriguez said.
Detailed information on how many people have tried and failed to process their unemployment compensation claims has been slow in coming. The department has increased operations at its call centers, where 250 employees are manning the phones for people unable to get through on the web.
If there is one enduring lesson from this debacle, aside from the need to better vet government technology contracts and better test government websites before their rollouts, it is that real live humans should be around to help people who are unable to navigate web-based systems.
But in 2011,
The website's rollout hasn't helped the state's standing with the
DEO initially thought the
"DEO sincerely regrets any delays or frustration experienced by claimants and we are working around-the-clock with program experts from (project contractor) Deloitte to fix technical problems as they arise," department officials told the
The governor should commit to giving people who do business with the state a functioning website and when all else fails, the option to "press zero and talk to an operator."
Many left frustrated with state unemployment benefits website
Posted on Wednesday,
Yet it's not clear how the website is handling the demand of a system with 235,000 claimants. Sims said she didn't know how many people failed to file a claim or how many phone calls weren't picked up.
Context matters because a far different portrayal of CONNECT's debut was playing across social media and in claims offices across the state.
CONNECT is supposed to be a big upgrade over the old system, which was 30 years old and difficult to use. DEO officials are quick to point out that an extra 250 workers were enlisted to assist people with the new website.
Still, numerous anecdotes suggest that wasn't enough.
More than 100 people packed the unemployment office on
She was blocked from the benefits page on the state website. So she tried to get her questions answered by phone. No luck.
Finally, she went to the unemployment center, where a staffer redirected her back to a phone line.
"It's hopeless," Mattock said, adding that she is out of money and has nothing to live on. "There are no answers. Ever."
It was more of the same in
"I don't know what's going on, but I need this money," said
An employee at the job center, followed by a security guard, told a reporter he was forbidden to talk to recipients.
"Miss, you can't talk to him," the security guard told one recipient during an interview, causing her to walk away.
The job center employee said
"I didn't make that decision," McShane said later. "We're an open federal program so I don't know why they would do that."
McShane said there were several technical glitches on Tuesday when the site launched, and some had persisted. One major issue is that the CONNECT site wasn't recognizing
Sims said since its launch, the website has not crashed, despite a phone recording from the state's 1-800 number late Tuesday and Facebook postings that said otherwise.
Problems were anticipated. In a letter sent to claimants two weeks ago, the DEO warned of long lines and extended wait times. The contractor of the CONNECT site, Deloitte, has had similar issues with unemployment system overhauls in
Deloitte's contract with
Sims said cost increases were a result of changes to the scope of work required from Deloitte. The delay, she added, came at no extra cost to taxpayers and was a result of a "corrective action plan." She did not specify why such a plan was needed.
The website underscores tension between the
Federal officials say
Federal officials couldn't be reached because of the government shutdown.
With the rollout of
Internet snags, clogged phone lines and packed unemployment offices seem par for the course for dozens of people who have contacted the
Meanwhile, more than 5,600 people have contacted the department in writing and dozens more have flooded Gov.
"There is absolutely no way to get through," said
The department touted the success of the revamp for a week before acknowledging that some claimants were erroneously blocked from entering the website or from claiming certain benefits.
The situation highlights existing concerns from the
It also raises questions about Deloitte, the
Deloitte led troubled overhauls of unemployment websites in
Deloitte responded by switching its project manager and beefing up staff in
The former system was so fragmented and at such a risk of failure, Sims said, the state didn't want to delay the new system by starting over.
Ultimately, Deloitte got
"We care about our clients' success, and are committed to helping them improve the lives of the people they serve," she wrote.
But Deloitte's recent streak of glitchy software rollouts is out of the ordinary, she added.
Deloitte has paid out more than
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