State report analyzes failure of Florida unemployment system during pandemic

Tallahassee, Florida – The company behind CONNECT, a crushing unemployment system where thousands of Floridians have failed during a pandemic, has defended its actions in a final report by the state’s chief inspector general. I go. The report has been released.

It was a review by CONNECT Governor Ron DeSantis in March 2020 after an “unprecedented surge” in jobless claims due to a pandemic.

“One point that I just found shocking is the fact that the contract chosen by Deloitte was not really honored,” said Anna Escamani, a member of the Inspector General’s office in Orlando. Told Team I in March after release. The preliminary report.

More Coverage: Team I: Fight Your Unemployment Insurance Claim

The review revealed that the Deloitte 2010 contract with the CONNECT state requires at least 200,000 users to embark at the same time. However, the test targeted approximately 4,200 users, not the 200,000 required for the contract.

In response to a preliminary report, Deloitte said it met contractual requirements for system capacity, saying 200,000 “concurrent” users were different from 200,000 concurrent users at exactly the same time.

Deloitte said the “unprecedented” capacity could have cost the state an additional $ 9.9 million at the time.

The IG review also included a written observation from the former director of management services, Jonathan Satter, who oversaw the DEO during most of the height of the pandemic.

Satter explained that staff had been working more than 80 hours a week for many months, and many refused to take vacations. In addition, he reported multiple outbreaks of COVID-19 in buildings and other WD locations, multiple bomb threats over the phone, multiple shooting threats via social media, and “huge numbers of callers.” It threatens suicide, homelessness, etc. ”

Below is a full review of CONNECT.

ABC Action News has been tracking many CONNECT issues since March 2020.

“I have to rely on the mercy of others. I don’t want to do it, ”he said.

“I was so lucky that a family member crashed into my spare bedroom because I couldn’t afford the rent,” said another woman.

“The bills keep going up,” one man told us.

COVID-19 sent a shockwave across nearly every industry, leaving hundreds of thousands of people out of work. Instead, they chose what many are calling the new “unpaid 9-5 position” and asked someone to help them file unemployment over the phone with the DEO.

“A call took two minutes and I made 308 calls,” one man said of the WD call.

“It really is a feeling of isolation and terrible loneliness,” said another woman.

ABC’s Action News, often copied and pasted from online textbooks, has always lobbied the Office of Economic Opportunities to learn more about the issues plaguing the CONNECT system. In May, the governor called for an investigation.

“The problem with the survey is that we don’t have to answer real questions because we can provide workarounds to political leaders,” said Ryan Barak, a labor and employment expert, there. is over a year old. ..

Associated article:

He seems to have been right. Only now do we really know what went wrong and the extent of the CONNECT system’s shortcomings.

“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but the most important thing I’ve ever done,” Satter said in April 2020.

We now know what he meant when he said after being appointed to settle and handle the turmoil.

The Inspector General reported that WD had started distributing paper applications to thousands of people who could not access the overwhelming site, but Satter said the form was 10 years old and the applicant’s information was. that he could not complete the PEGA system. The form did not contain all the information necessary for the CONNECT system.

He states that the backlog of applications has grown significantly, in addition to the 40,000 to 50,000 applications submitted daily.

He also told the Inspector General’s office that some of CONNECT’s programs were so old that he couldn’t find the resources to maintain them. He believes the system is already obsolete when it goes live in 2013.

The report further states that the cost of the CONNECT system was approximately $ 81 million, more than $ 13 million more than the original price at the planning stage.

Inspectors say agencies need to better monitor expectations and come up with “escape plans” and “fines” if suppliers don’t provide them.

Officials said several other companies were involved in the creation and deployment of CONNECT, but the system has been hampered by problems from the start and through years of audits. say.

State officials have said that overhauling Florida’s unemployment system could cost $ 244 million. DeSantis hopes that federal funding will be available.

Every week, ABC Action News continues to send dozens of names to WD to help people and put them in touch with the unemployment benefits they owe.

Are You Having Problems With Unemployment In Florida?

ABC Action News has sent over 27,000 names and information to the state over the past year.

Deloitte statement:

“For more than six years after implementation, the CONNECT system had no capacity issues and WD successfully used it to provide unemployed Floridians with tens of millions of bills and hundreds of millions of dollars. dollars in profits. Did.

The Inspector General’s report incorrectly assumes that Deloitte must develop a system capable of handling 200,000 external users at the same time or at the same time. Not only is this assumption wrong, it is also unbelievable. Deloitte, under the leadership of WD, designed a CONNECT with sufficient capacity to handle the workloads that arose during the Great Recession. At that time, no one was thinking or anticipating the massive influx of claims raised during the pandemic. “

State report analyzes failure of Florida unemployment system during pandemic

State report analyzes failure of Florida unemployment system during pandemic

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