Problems persist for online unemployment system

BOSTON (WWLP) – One third of new claimants run into computer glitches with the state’s unemployment benefits system.

State lawmakers are searching for ways to improve the state’s online systems and tech contracts, but they’re finding answers to their questions less than forthcoming.

About 30 percent of new jobless benefits claimants are still running into problems with the state’s online unemployment insurance system, sometimes resulting in delayed benefits. Last year, then Massachusetts Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Joanne Goldstein told the senate lawmakers the technical problems would be fixed by February. Goldstein has since stepped down, replaced by former RMV registrar Rachel Kaprielian.

“It’s working for the most part, but I’m always interested in where it’s not working,” said Kaprielian. “I did it myself this morning as a fake claimant, and I found it to be very functional.”

Kaprielian said 98 percent of existing claimants don’t experience glitches with the online unemployment system. But the Senate’s post-audit and oversight committee wants to improve the state’s online systems and state tech contracts in the future. Senate lawmakers were frustrated by a lack of suggestions.

Newton Senator Cynthia Stone Creem said, “Frustration today was more, hopefully we were going to hear what people thought would work better and what they expected and how they’re going to measure their success in the future and that information wasn’t as forthcoming.”

Deloitte Consulting delivered the $46 million online jobless benefits system late, defective and over budget last July.

Deloitte also has a $77 million contract with the state to modernize its computer systems at the RMV. State officials say the RMV contract is moving along “reasonably” well.