Pennsylvania unemployment system was scheduled to be replaced two years ago

Destiny Viator

Action News Investigates has learned Pennsylvania was supposed to have a state-of-the-art unemployment computer system two years ago.But the state is still using a 40-year-old system that has been overwhelmed with 1.65 million unemployment filings since the pandemic started.In 2017, the state Labor and Industry Department agreed to pay Geographic […]

Action News Investigates has learned Pennsylvania was supposed to have a state-of-the-art unemployment computer system two years ago.But the state is still using a 40-year-old system that has been overwhelmed with 1.65 million unemployment filings since the pandemic started.In 2017, the state Labor and Industry Department agreed to pay Geographic Solutions of Florida $35 million for a new unemployment system.Buried deep in the 2,589-page contract is a section showing the system was supposed to go live on April 30, 2018.Instead, the state has been fielding 20,000 calls a day from angry people who cannot get their unemployment using the old system.”It’s very frustrating,” said laid-off construction worker Jim Foster of Kittanning. He filed five weeks ago but still has not gotten an unemployment check.He said he was angry to learn about the delays with the new computer system.”Someone in Harrisburg that’s in charge of this stuff should have said, ‘Hey wait a minute, we have a system that’s this old, we need to do something about it,'” Foster said.Action News Investigates asked Labor and Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak about the reasons for the delay.”We have really stepped up what we’ve done internally and working with L&I, I’ve been secretary two and a half years, we have done all we can to speed up that process,” he said.A spokesperson for the agency said legislators knew about the delays. “We were not made aware of these delays. If they told someone they didn’t tell us the general assembly,” said state Sen. Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland County. “I want answers. I want to know why the contract is late two years.”

Action News Investigates has learned Pennsylvania was supposed to have a state-of-the-art unemployment computer system two years ago.

But the state is still using a 40-year-old system that has been overwhelmed with 1.65 million unemployment filings since the pandemic started.

In 2017, the state Labor and Industry Department agreed to pay Geographic Solutions of Florida $35 million for a new unemployment system.

Buried deep in the 2,589-page contract is a section showing the system was supposed to go live on April 30, 2018.

Instead, the state has been fielding 20,000 calls a day from angry people who cannot get their unemployment using the old system.

“It’s very frustrating,” said laid-off construction worker Jim Foster of Kittanning. He filed five weeks ago but still has not gotten an unemployment check.

He said he was angry to learn about the delays with the new computer system.

“Someone in Harrisburg that’s in charge of this stuff should have said, ‘Hey wait a minute, we have a system that’s this old, we need to do something about it,'” Foster said.

Action News Investigates asked Labor and Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak about the reasons for the delay.

“We have really stepped up what we’ve done internally and working with L&I, I’ve been secretary two and a half years, we have done all we can to speed up that process,” he said.

A spokesperson for the agency said legislators knew about the delays.

“We were not made aware of these delays. If they told someone they didn’t tell us the general assembly,” said state Sen. Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland County. “I want answers. I want to know why the contract is late two years.”

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