The shameful delays in payments to unemployed workers added to California's other information technology woes. With last year's system wide outages at the Department of Motor Vehicles, the people of the state learned the hard way about bad management of system upgrades. With the Employment Development Department, what should have been a fairly smooth process turned into a complete debacle. The conversion process developed a glitch that required manual processing of thousands of unemployment claims. The combination of failed automation and staff reductions added up to a disaster. According to a Oct. 2 KCRA 3 News article, the EDD announced that those who are not paid by the end of Wednesday will require more work before their claims are processed.
There was a total of 101,000 backlogged claims 81,000 of which have been paid. This leaves 20,000 claims that did not get expedited pay. In other words, those claims are not yet processed and will continue to be delayed. This is no victory. In some cases, people are being told to resubmit their paperwork. In other cases, there may be fraud or other disqualifying factors. This means continuing problems, according to an Oct. 3 article in the Sierra Sun Times. In all, $35 million in benefits were paid out, but many still languish without a final determination about their claims.
The computer problems started over Labor Day weekend. The main problem was with transferring older claims from the 30-year-old system to the new system. Claims that were filed since September 15th were particularly affected. According to a Oct. 3 article in the LA Times, EDD Deputy Director Sharon Hilliard said,
“We know this has been a very difficult time for some of our customers...The EDD is pleased to see our aggressive efforts succeed in eliminating our backlog of certifications."
That does nothing for the thousands of unemployed who are now late on car, utility and rent payments. It also does not address the issue of failing to report the problem or to let the public know that something was wrong. In the end, the problem was solved by rushing to approve the easy claims without resolving the not-so-easy claims. This is not an end result that should please anyone.
Marty Morgenstern is the secretary of labor and workforce development. He feels the same way. He brought up the fact that Hilliard had ignored continuing problems. He blamed a sluggish response to the problems to begin with, and that has led to the hardships that people have faced.