For this project, ISF examined and assessed the delivery of reemployment assistance (RA) benefits in the Florida, including an assessment of the CONNECT system, Florida’s system providing the intake and processing of RA claims, and identification of recommendations to improve RA claims processes.
The project focused in part on identifying gaps and strategies for improving performance of the system, including Department goals to improve organizational agility and create a sustainable culture of continuous improvement, achieve workforce and RA national prominence, and reduce operating costs.
A significant challenge in 2020 was a 5.3M initial unemployment claims total from March 2020 through February 2021, compared to 4.2M combined initial claims total from 2012-2019. This dramatic increase in claims exposed some potential areas for improvement in the CONNECT system.
Two data points related to Florida’s performance stand out:
- 10,340%: The percentage change in new claims received over a period of less than eight weeks between USDOL reporting week ending February 29, 2020, through reporting week ending April 18, 2020.
- $21,694,335,691: Between March 15,2020 and February 4, 2021, the Department distributed more than $21.6 billion in federal unemployment benefits.
ISF developed an improvement plan, including budget request estimates for upcoming fiscal years, to address immediate needs to achieve the following:
- Complete migration of the CONNECT infrastructure to a cloud service provider, begun during the pandemic months of 2020
- Re-engineer business processes and technology used for claims processing
- Facilitate pandemic recovery, addressing challenges in service delivery to ensure the best service possible for the citizens of Florida
Our team identified strategic initiatives to improve processes, infrastructure, software, data and analytics, and security, culminating in final recommendations following a governance model of continuous modernization, which is anticipated to evolve over time to ensure organizational agility and create a sustainable culture of continuous modernization.
As a result of ISF’s work, the Florida Legislature provided $92.4 million to modernize the state’s unemployment system, provide a more user-friendly experience for claimants applying for Reemployment Assistance benefits, and move to a cloud-based computing system.