Feathers ruffled over Florida's unemployment website

CREATED Feb 27, 2014

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FLORIDA-- Tensions are growing between US Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) and executives at Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO).  

Last week, Sen. Nelson made his third request for the US Department of Labor to investigate Florida's new unemployment website for possible fraud or misuse. 

Since the website launched in October, many claimants have reported delayed payments and swamped phone lines when they call to get help. 

DEO officials, however, say the website is improving and issues are declining.  Call volume has gone done, claims are being processed at record levels and a backlog of claims needing to be paid no longer exists, according to a memo from DEO.

In response to Sen. Nelson's third request, DEO Executive Director Jesse Panuccio issued the following statement, saying in part: 

"Senator Nelson does not rely on the facts."

He continued,

"The Senator has not reached out to DEO to learn first hand the progress of the CONNECT system, nor has he suggested any improvements. It appears that Senator Nelson is not interested in truly helping Floridians in need, but only focused on scoring political points."

Panuccio said USDOL informed DEO this week that weekly monitoring calls were no longer necessary because the system is improving. 

Panuccio said USDOL officials asked him to offer advice to California officials, who are also dealing with a troubled new unemployment website, also designed by the same contractor, Deloitte Consulting.

Despite DEO's reports about improvements, many Fox 4 viewers tell us they still can't get their unemployment checks and can't get a hold of anyone for answers.  We will continue working for you until you get the help and answers you've been waiting on.