“It was designed with all these different things, basically to fail, I think. This thing was a clunker, there’s no doubt about it.”
— Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said about the state’s unemployment claims website, CONNECT, which was built by Deloitte Consulting in 2013 when Rick Scott was Florida governor.
The system has pretty much been a pile of shit from Day 1. The Tampa Bay Times reported in late March:
But as auditors made clear last year, state officials failed to fix fundamental problems with the site dating back to its launch in October 2013, when Florida’s unemployment rate was falling.
Building a new unemployment site was one of Scott’s top priorities, and the contract to build it was awarded to Deloitte Consulting, a major contractor whose high-powered lobbyists at the time included Brian Ballard, the co-chair of Scott’s inaugural finance committee.
Deloitte had problems from the start. Two years before the site launched, the Department of Economic Opportunity was warning the project wasn’t working right and and had fallen behind schedule. Department officials were threatening to fine Deloitte $15,000 per day until it revised its final design. At one point they threatened to fire the company.
When the site launched, website glitches locked thousands of recipients out of the system and delayed their payments by weeks.
The site, in violation of state law, required applicants to sign in with their Social Security numbers, and the site had so many problems that people found their claims denied or were paid claims when they weren’t qualified for.
To add insult to injury, the site cost taxpayers $77 million, $14 million more than originally estimated.
Now, as thousands of newly out-of-work Floridians are trying to file claims for unemployment benefits and receive payments during the COVID-19 pandemic, the website keeps crashing.
The first action was filed Thursday against Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. It seeks to compel payments through the reemployment system that have not been made.
A lawsuit was also filed Friday against the governor, DEO and Deloitte Consulting, LLC, who had been contracted to develop the web-based claims site years ago. The suit alleges negligence in creating and administering the system.
“Persons like Plaintiffs named herein have not been able to obtain benefits that they should have been able to obtain due to gross negligence and/or negligence of defendants. The system design and/or implementation is a failure,” it states.
Can you hear that laughing sound? That’s coming from the state of Rhode Island.
Gov. DeSantis says unemployment system was ‘designed to fail’ [Florida Politics]
Ron DeSantis was warned about Florida’s broken unemployment website last year, audit shows [Tampa Bay Times]
Lawsuit filed over state unemployment system, attorneys call it a “colossal failure” [WFTS-TV]