NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

September 19, 2013

O'Connor Ives: Benefits troubles need 'immediate attention'

Senator urges state to hold Deloitte financially responsible

(Continued)

“Residents in my district and throughout the commonwealth cannot wait another month or another week,” O’Connor Ives said.

In response to O’Connor Ives’ letter, Goldstein said that while the vast majority of claimants are successfully interfacing with the system, his office understands some may be experiencing challenges or specific questions on their individual claims.

“We understand and respect that the functioning of the system is personal and rightfully so,” Goldstein said. “System success is irrelevant to the claimant who is without benefits or couldn’t reach a claims representative, and even one claimant experiencing a problem is one too many. We are committed to ensuring every eligible claimant gets paid.”

Goldstein went on to say that with any overhaul of an IT system so large and complex, her office was aware that some issues may arise.

“That is why the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) included a warranty period in its contract with Deloitte and why DUA has held Deloitte accountable throughout this launch,” Goldstein said.

According to the DUA, since UI Online went live July 1 — replacing an outdated and fragmented three-decade-old system — approximately 115,000 of UI claimants are successfully requesting their continued claims on a weekly basis. Of those, approximately 96 percent completed through “self-service” without any waiting or needing to speak with someone. Similar to before the launch, DUA’s Constituent Services Unit provides support to elected officials who may have constituents with questions about their claim. For many calls or questions DUA may be receiving now, it is often because of individual claim issues, not system related issues.

In a separate interview, O’Connor Ives said she recognized the complexity of overhauling and launching a new unemployment benefits system. But that did not excuse the state from doing more to ensure no one fell through the cracks.

“So long as people that are relying on their compensation are still going to get it — with some sort of temporary strategy to make sure that it happens. I just need to know what the plan is,” O’Connor Ives said.

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