Investigators take unemployment website problems to Governor Rick Scott

8:15 PM, Dec 11, 2013   |    comments
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TAMPA, Florida - Florida's new unemployment website has been causing problems for those in need of help for two months.  But Gov. Rick Scott tells 10 News he is only focused on creating jobs.

The new CONNECT website cost the state $63 million, but has had numerous problems since its Oct. 15 launch. The 10 News Investigators have been reporting on the failures and how its impacted unemployed Floridians in need of help.

Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), which was created by Gov. Scott, oversees the website and has been negotiating with contractor Deloitte over fixes.  Deloitte agreed to refund the state $1.5 million.

"As you know the Department of Economic Opportunity was replacing a 30-year-old system," said Scott. "My big focus is to make sure people have jobs so they don't even have to look."

When asked by the 10 News Investigators, "Where does the buck stop?" 

Scott responded, "Deloitte is being held responsible."

Bradenton businesswoman Mary Beth Koser says the website failures have impacted those who do the hiring around the state too.

"I don't know what to do; I'm bewildered. I'm appalled at the entire system," Koser said, indicating CONNECT's failures have cost her business thousands of dollars.

When employees claim unemployment benefits, businesses pay additional taxes, and inappropriate benefits can hurt small businesses.

Koser said the entire unemployment system in Florida is overwhelmed and she cannot get answers online or on the phone.

"I have done claims in the past," Koser said. "Prior to the new CONNECT system, it was very simple. I've done everything I can besides literally getting in my car and driving to Tallahassee 803 to get these put into the proper people's hands."

The state has required Deloitte to fix all problems by Dec. 20. 

But the 10 News Investigators have also confirmed Deloitte had problems with an unemployment website it created in Massachusetts. The company was fired this past summer after it failed to meet a number of deadlines.

The Executive Director of the Department of Economic Opportunity, Jesse Panuccio, issued this statement:

"Since the launch of CONNECT, I have heard from Floridians who are experiencing delays or difficulties in receiving benefits. I understand that these delays are a serious hardship, particularly at this time of year. Like them, I am frustrated that not every problem has been solved. We continue to work non-stop to help these claimants, and I will not rest until our contractor, Deloitte Consulting, has delivered the system we were promised. Right now, getting claimants their benefits is the top priority for this agency."  

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