Pennsylvania still using ‘woefully outdated’ computer system to handle unemployment claims

>> WORKERS HERE AT THE STATE UNEMPLOYMENT OFFICE IN DUQUESNE AND THROUGHOUT PENNSYLVANIA ARE STILL

>> WORKERS HERE AT THE STATE UNEMPLOYMENT OFFICE IN DUQUESNE AND THROUGHOUT PENNSYLVANIA ARE STILL USING 1970’S TECHNOLOGY TO PROCESS CLAIMS THE AUDITOR GENERAL TELLS ACTION NEWS INVESTIGATES HIS AUDIT IN 2017 FOUND THE SYSTEM WAS IN DESPERATE NEED OF OVERHAUL >> THAT’S WHAT I’VE BEEN GETTING FOR THREE WEEKS STRAIGHT. >> MARK MCELHANEY AND THOUSANDS OF OTHER UNEMPLOYED WORKERS LIKE HIM HAVE BEEN UNABLE TO FILE CLAIMS. THREE YEARS AGO AN AUDIT FOUND THE STATE’S UNEMPLOYMENT COMPUTER SYSTEM WAS ’WOEFULLY OUTDATED.’ ALSO THAT ITS ANTIQUATED HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE HAD THE POTENTIAL OF PUTTING THE ENTIRE UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION SYSTEM IN PERIL. >> OUR AUD AND THE WAY IT NEEDS TO BE GET PEOPLE THERE CHECKS. >> THE STATE HAS BEEN TRYING TO REPLACE THE SYSTEM SINCE 2006. RESPONDING TO A QUESTION FROM ACTION NEWS INVESTIGATES, GOVERNOR WOLF SAID FRIDAY HE HAS TAKEN ACTION TO FIX THE PROBLEM. >> WE AGREE ENTIRELY WITH THE AUDITOR GENERAL AND SUED THE VENDOR. THE SYSTEM WE HAVE IN PLACE NOW IS NOT THAT SYSTEM. BUT EARLIER, THE STATE LABOR SECRETARY SAID THEY ARE STILL USING THE OLD SYSTEM. >> WE HAVE AN OLD SYSTEM AND ARE IN THE PROCESS OF UPDATING THAT THEY’RE PLANNING ON GOING LIVE WITH THAT SYSTEM IN OCTOBER. IF THAT SYSTEM WERE AVAILABLE NOW, IT WOULD HAVE HELPED. >> DEPASQUALE SAYS IF THE LEGISLATURE AND ADMINISTRATION HAD QUICKLY RESPONDED TO HIS AUDIT RECOMMENDATIONS — >> THE SYSTEM WOULD BE BETTER PEOPLE WOULD GET CHECKS AND INFORMATION QUICKER. THAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF PEOPLE HAD LISTENED. >> STILL HAVE A WAYS TO GO AND I ACKNOWLEDGE THAT WE HAVE DISAPPOINTED FAR TOO MANY. >> J COSTA TELLS ME THREE YEARS IS ACTUALLY NOT A LONG TIME TO REPLACE A COMPLICATED COMPUTER SYSTEM. BUT AGAIN, THE PROCESS STARTED MORE THAN A DECADE A

Pennsylvania still using ‘woefully outdated’ computer system to handle unemployment claims


Thousands of Pennsylvanians have gotten busy signals or no response when trying to file unemployment claims.Action News Investigates has learned the state is still using 1970s technology to process claims, three years after a state audit found the unemployment computer system was in desperate need of an overhaul.The 2017 audit found the computer system was “woefully outdated.””Relying on such antiquated hardware and software has the potential of putting the entire computer system and unemployment compensation in peril,” the audit said.Reached this week, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said, “Our audit clearly showed that this system is not capable of handling this type of volume in the rapid way it needs to be to get people’s checks on time.”The state has been trying to replace the system since 2006. Responding to a question from Action News Investigates, Gov. Tom Wolf said Friday he has taken action to fix the problem.”We agreed entirely with the auditor general and sued the vendor, and so the system we have in place now is not that system,” Wolf said.But earlier this week, state Labor and Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak said they are still using the old system.”We have an old system. We are in the process of updating that. We know we are going live with our new system in October. If that system were available now, it certainly would have helped,” Oleksiak said.State Sen. Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, also said the state is still using the old system, but three years is not a long time to replace a complicated computer system.DePasquale said if the Legislature and administration had quickly responded to his audit recommendations, “the system would be better, and people would be able to get information quicker and get their checks quicker. That would undoubtedly have happened if everyone had listened to our recommendations.”Wolf said the state has added hundreds of workers to handle unemployment claims.”We still have a ways to go, and I acknowledge that we have disappointed far too many people,” he said.

Thousands of Pennsylvanians have gotten busy signals or no response when trying to file unemployment claims.

Action News Investigates has learned the state is still using 1970s technology to process claims, three years after a state audit found the unemployment computer system was in desperate need of an overhaul.

The 2017 audit found the computer system was “woefully outdated.”

“Relying on such antiquated hardware and software has the potential of putting the entire computer system and unemployment compensation in peril,” the audit said.

Reached this week, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said, “Our audit clearly showed that this system is not capable of handling this type of volume in the rapid way it needs to be to get people’s checks on time.”

The state has been trying to replace the system since 2006. Responding to a question from Action News Investigates, Gov. Tom Wolf said Friday he has taken action to fix the problem.

“We agreed entirely with the auditor general and sued the vendor, and so the system we have in place now is not that system,” Wolf said.

But earlier this week, state Labor and Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak said they are still using the old system.

“We have an old system. We are in the process of updating that. We know we are going live with our new system in October. If that system were available now, it certainly would have helped,” Oleksiak said.

State Sen. Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, also said the state is still using the old system, but three years is not a long time to replace a complicated computer system.

DePasquale said if the Legislature and administration had quickly responded to his audit recommendations, “the system would be better, and people would be able to get information quicker and get their checks quicker. That would undoubtedly have happened if everyone had listened to our recommendations.”

Wolf said the state has added hundreds of workers to handle unemployment claims.

“We still have a ways to go, and I acknowledge that we have disappointed far too many people,” he said.

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