Contractor for Florida's glitchy unemployment website defends its work

CREATED Jan. 2, 2014

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FLORIDA -- It's a new year, but the same problems still plague the state's new $63 million unemployment website, preventing many Floridians from receiving their benefit checks.  Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has already withheld $4.5 million from the contractor, Deloitte Consulting, and has implemented a $15,000 daily business day fine for each day problems persist with the site.  Deloitte was contracted to have all glitches fixed by December 20th. 

Despite the fines, Deloitte officials are defending their work.  In a statement to Fox 4, Deloitte Communications Director Jonathan Gandal said the company has worked "in good faith" to meet or exceed project requirements.  

Here's the full statement: 

“Throughout this project, Deloitte has worked in good faith to meet or exceed DEO’s criteria for acceptance of our work. We have successfully completed the tasks and activities outlined in our contract and all subsequent amendments. In just 60 days, the new system has surpassed the performance of the unsustainable systems it replaced, meeting or exceeding longer term key performance indicators by reducing average time to adjudicate separation issues, reducing the number of claims requiring staff intervention, and decreasing average time to implement lower authority appeals.  Performance will continue to improve as the system matures and as both departmental users and claimants become acclimated to its new functions.

“The vast majority of eligible claimants are successfully accessing the CONNECT system and receiving the Reemployment Assistance benefits to which they are entitled.  As we have communicated to DEO, we believe that any remaining issues deemed ‘high impact’ by DEO’s own definition either require Departmental actions or are otherwise beyond Deloitte’s control.  We will continue to provide warranty support to DEO, in accordance with our contract, and work diligently to resolve any warranty items as they are identified. We will also continue to work with DEO to clarify the true nature of the remaining issues and will hold ourselves strictly accountable for fixing anything within our control as quickly as possible.”

DEO officials announced today the department will be bringing on an additional 250 workers by March strictly to handle adjudication issues with individuals' claims. 

"We have focused on this area because we know it will do the most to expedite payments to people who have been waiting the longest," said DEO Director Jesse Panuccio.

DEO is also adding an additional 80 agents over the next two months to staff the call center, which users have claimed is nearly impossible to reach. 

"We will continue to hold Deloitte accountable and I have asked them to devote whatever resources necessary to fix all remaining technical issues,” Panuccio said.

It's unkown when the remaining issues will be fixed. Fox 4 will continue to push for answers until the issues are resolved.