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State’s jobless office staffs up amid continuing problems with website

by John Kennedy | January 2nd, 2014

Already battling with a consulting giant over a flawed website, the state’s unemployment agency is adding 330 more staffers over the next three months to deal with long waits and disputed claims.

Jesse Panuccio, executive director of the Florida Department of Employment Opportunity, announced the extraordinary action in an email Thursday.

“We are dedicated to making sure that every claim is processed quickly and we will continue to work until every claimant is served,” Panuccio wrote.

DEO will add 100 ‘adjudicators’ this month to help resolve unemployment claims disputes, another 100 in February and 50 more in March, doubling the size of the unit. While left unsaid, the staffing-up may be a sign that the agency expects a long siege with Deloitte Consulting LLP, which designed the CONNECT website that has proved problematic.

Panuccio last month said the state would withhold a $3 million payment and fining the company $15,000-a-day over the site’s performance. Deloitte shot back by suggesting that any lingering problems may be the state’s fault.

While problems with Florida’s CONNECT site initially involved users having trouble entering PIN numbers and data for the weeks they were seeking payment, Panuccio said delays now occur chiefly when an applicant’s eligibility for benefits is questioned.

The state last month also announced it was then adding 192 temporary workers to assist with claims and has extended the hours of call centers established to assist those filing.

 

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