Fixes for new Fla. unemployment system, but some problems remain - WFLA News Channel 8

Fixes for new Fla. unemployment system, but some problems remain

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

Seven weeks after Florida's new unemployment system launched, the executive director of the state's Department of Economic Opportunity says the "majority of processes are working well."

The new system, called CONNECT, launched October 15, prompting complaints from claimants who said they had trouble logging in, getting benefits paid and getting through on the help line.

But issues still appear to remain with the system's adjudication and appeals processes.

"They're stating that because of computer errors and IT problems that they're having, it's not their problem, but in fact the problem of the programmers that installed the system initially," said Ernest Christopher George, who is waiting for answers on an unemployment claim he filed in August.

George's claim ended up in adjudication, a process that kicks in if there is an issue raised on a claim, but his account now says he is "eligible" to receive benefits. Still, George says he has not received any money and is behind on rent, car and utility payments for his family of five.

"We're down to the wire," he said.

There are plans in the works to make fixes this month and also hire additional adjudicators and others to help get through the cases in the system, DEO's executive director said in an interview with News Channel 8.

"What we're experiencing is an increase in those systems due to some of the problems we had early on, so we do think that there will be an increase in time to work through some of those," said Jesse Panuccio, executive director of Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity.

Since the launch, state officials say they have already added staff and hours to the call center and worked with the contractor, Deloitte, to address problems with the site, also pushing back the deadline to have everything working as it should from Nov. 15 to Dec. 20. They also negotiated a deal with Deloitte to get $1.5 million in savings because of the problems.

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