Wisconsin signs $ 17 million contract to update unemployment system


MADISON, Wisconsin (AP) – Wisconsin has entered into a nearly $ 17 million multi-year contract with software development company Flexion to update the outdated unemployment claims payment system that was overwhelmed last year at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state announced on Wednesday.

Federal funds are being used to pay for the entire computer upgrade project, which the State Department of Workforce Development estimates will cost around $ 90 million, reported the Wisconsin State Journal.

The modernization project comes as the state tries to address concerns about long delays in processing unemployment claims that have led some people to wait months to get their checks. Republicans have seized the issue as a responsibility for Democratic Gov. Tony Evers as he seeks re-election next year.

State officials said Madison-based Flexion was chosen following a competitive process that gathered 18 nominations.

DWD chief information officer Neeraj Kulkarni said department officials will start creating an implementation roadmap with Flexion to plan for IT updates and applicants should be able to notice the first changes in the system. state unemployment system “very soon”.

Department secretary Amy Pechacek said other changes to the unemployment process include updated call centers, which will launch next week and fully implemented by February 2022, and a center Virtual career platform that will go live in the coming days and aims to better connect job seekers with potential employers in the state.

Pechacek also said the department had increased the number of administrative law judges, who preside over the appeal process for unemployment claims, from 17 before the pandemic to more than 60.

The department reported more than 35,000 weekly unemployment insurance claims and more than 12,500 calls awaiting planning for the week ending September 18. The average age of appeals filed and awaiting a hearing was 55 days.

Five months ago, the ministry saw more than 94,500 weekly complaints and more than 13,800 pending appeals. The average age of appeals filed and awaiting a hearing was 78 days.

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