Unemployment website, system not fully fixed yet - WFLA News Channel 8

Unemployment website, system not fully fixed yet

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) - As the deadline for fixes passes, problems remain with the state's new "CONNECT" unemployment system.

Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity had given contractor Deloitte Consulting until Dec. 20 to fix issues with the website and system that launched on October 15. Since then, unemployed Floridians have complained about trouble logging on, getting through to representatives by phone and getting answers to questions about their benefits.

DEO said Friday that it is withholding a $3 million payment to Deloitte and will charge the contractor $15,000 for every business day it fails to "deliver a fully functioning Reemployment Assistance computer system."

"There are problems in the system, yes, there are deficiencies in the code and we need to get them fixed," DEO Executive Director Jesse Panuccio said.

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Some unemployed workers who contacted News Channel 8 say they are still owed weeks of payment or have had trouble getting their first claims through the system.

Margie Williamson says she is missing about $500 in unemployment benefits that were sent to her bank but bounced back around the time the new system launched in October.

"They have no idea where it is and they have no idea when they could tell me when I'd be receiving it," she said.

Williamson says she also encountered problems on the website, getting an error message when she tried to log in using the Internet browser Internet Explorer 11. She says she eventually found out the new website doesn't work on that browser and had to download Safari, which worked.

Land O'Lakes resident David Matte says he's missing several weeks of benefits.

He says he isn't getting paid for a week in October when problems with the new system prevented him from getting through and filing for his benefits.

"They still owe me from October and I don't know if I'll ever see it," he said.

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Two other weeks aren't being paid because the state says he didn't meet a requirement to sign up for a certain jobs program that he says he didn't know about because he wasn't able to get into the system to find out about it in time, Matte said.

 DEO says the biggest issue still remaining with the system involves the adjudication unit, which handles claims that are flagged for various issues. The caseload there and the wait times have increased to "unacceptable levels," DEO said in a release Friday.

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