Investigation into Florida’s unemployment system underway

Florida Unemployment

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA/Cap News) – The investigation into why Florida paid more than $77 million for an unemployment technology system that hasn’t worked properly since the beginning in 2013 is underway.

Gov. Ron DeSantis first called for an investigation into the failed unemployment system on May 1.

“The way it was done was not worth the amount of money that was put in. I’ve not found a single person who has said its worth it,” DeSantis said at the time.

Since then, Florida Inspector General Melinda Miguel has been pulling documents. She is asking for patience.

“One of the things we’re looking at is whether this particular project was designed properly, tested properly and designed with appropriate capacity. We want to provide a historical look back, going all the way back to 2007,” said Miguel.

That’s the year the state spent a million dollars on a study to replace its aging system. Four years later, work began on what was then a $39 million contract.

But 17 amendments later, it ballooned to a $77 million project.

“We want to follow all of the money,” said Miguel.

Florida Democrats also want an independent legislative investigation.

Democrats like State Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez have said the investigation must go beyond the failed technology and the past administration.

“We should take a wholesale look at the damage done to the entire state, including employers and employees who rely on the system,” said Rodriguez.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) – who was governor when the system was implemented – responded to the investigation on Thursday.

“The big thing you have to think about is no one anticipated the number of people that would go under unemployment at the same time. No one anticipated this,” he said.

Scott also said no one anticipated the federal government would add money to the system, which he says made it more difficult.

“What we did in Congress is we gave more money because we know all across the country these systems would have to be updated,” he said. “And that’s what Florida, like every state, is going to have to do.”

Scott also noted that, having been governor of Florida, he knows how difficult it can be. But, he said, there are two choices when faced with a crisis.

“What I learned as governor is you have a choice. You either point fingers or you go work hard and fix problems,” he said. “And if you look around this country, you have people working really hard and trying to solve problems they never anticipated.”

In the meantime, Miguel told us she will have a better idea of where the investigation is going in about a month.

“There are a lot of people out there hurting. Florida families need the State of Florida right now at a time like no other,” she said. “And I think we’ll get to the bottom of this.”

But no investigation is going to speed up payments to the thousands still waiting. As of Thursday morning, more than 338,000 thousand people were still waiting for a determination on the validity of their claims.

Another 33,000 who have been deemed eligible are still waiting for their first check.

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