State Says Bug-Prone Unemployment System Is Improving

Nov 4, 2013

Jesse Panuccio is in his first year as executive director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. The department oversees unemployment benefits.

Florida’s new unemployment claims system isn’t perfect yet, but state leaders say it’s less bug-prone.

The Florida Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee got an update Monday on problems with the new system, which launched three weeks ago.

Executive Director Jesse Panuccio runs the Department of Economic Opportunity, which oversees the program for jobless benefits.

He says the kinks have mostly been worked out.

“As we stand here today the system is operational,” Panuccio said. “It is processing most claims without incident, has processed nearly 300,000 claims to date.”

The new system replaced a three-decades old computer mainframe that was failing.

But thousands of users have complained about error messages in the sign up process. Others haven’t been able to log on at all.

Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, wondered when the taxpayers would get their money’s worth.

“How much improvement are we expecting from this new system over what we were doing with our antiquated system,” Hays asked. “Is it worth the $68 million?”

Panuccio said the new program came with a learning curve, and both users and operators will need to adjust.

“While the first two weeks of implementation have been rockier than expected, on the whole the system is now properly processing the substantial majority of claims,” Panuccio said. “The two main issues that were causing complaints – PIN problem and the unavailability of a link to claim certain benefit weeks – have been resolved.”

Panuccio says it’ll take up to three months to see the full value of the new system.