For updated global info & data on COVID-19, please click HERE.For updated global data & graphs on COVID-19, please click HERE.For COVID-19 cases and death counts in USA by state, please click HERE.For COVID-19 cases in Florida via Florida COVID Action, please click HERE.For COVID-19 cases in Florida, via Florida state government, please click HERE.Due to many of Floridian readers’ concern, a separate post regarding the failed Florida unemployment system during COVID pandemic is presented below.
Poor technology, deep benefit cuts, and absurd eligibility requirements can come together to break a vital social program. Case in point: former Florida Governor Rick Scott dramatically cut the state program during his tenure by cutting employer contribution per covered employee in unemployment taxes per year from $319 to $50, the lowest in the country and less than one-fifth of the national average. Some of the requirements to receive Florida unemployment benefits were: documenting contacts with 5 employers per week, reduce total benefits by slashing number of weeks one may receive benefits, and 45 question online exam testing reading, math, and research skills which was found to be violating federal non-discrimination law by Department of Labor Civil Rights Division, etc. in 2015. State auditors flagged Florida’s unemployment system cursed by bad design and lax oversight, in Miami Herald on March 4, 2021, with video published on May 4, 2020, “FL Gov. Ron DeSantis – May 4, 2020 Reopening” that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said that his inspector general will investigate the contract with Deloitte Consulting to produce state’s unemployment website, which had failed repeatedly.
The Chief Inspector General Melinda Miguel reported that Florida’s failed unemployment system was never even prepared to handle a modest amount of jobless claims, and that the state officials provided poor oversight and never fixed longstanding problems with the online COONECT system. It is no wonder that the system was crushed during the pandemic in 2020. This reportwas released by Governor Ron DeSantis on Thursday, March 4, 2021. The report indicated:
In the video published on March 4, 2021, “Inspector General: Florida’s CONNECT system wasn’t adequately tested“, below:
In the video published on March 4, 2021, “Florida inspector general report finds long-established problems with state unemployment system“, below:
The Department of Economic Opportunity originally requested the system be able to handle 200,000 concurrent users. But Deloitte Consulting, the company that built it, only tested its system to handle 4,200 concurrent users, a drastically low number that caused the system to fail when it was rolled out in 2013, and failed again last year when it was overwhelmed by hundreds of thousands of desperate Floridians hoping to file unemployment claims.
The Department of Economic Opportunity never held Deloitte to that higher 200,000 number. Even after the state added 72 servers to beef up CONNECT during the pandemic, it could still only handle 100,000 concurrent users (half of what was promised).
The Inspector General wrote: Ernst & Young was supposedly the company hired to independently evaluate CONNECT before it went live in 2013. But Ernst & Young was “neither fully independent nor adequately rigorous.” The company was paid more than $2 million for its services, but paid the state back $500,000 in 2015.
There were so many defects and problems with CONNECT when it went live in 2013 that it violated the state’s contract with Deloitte.
These defects and problems with CONNECT were not resolved. State auditors flagged them in 2015, 2016, and 2019. Neither the Rick Scott nor Ron DeSantis administration ever remedied the errors despite clear record. Of the 31 issues auditors flagged in 2015, 14 remain unfixed.
Given all of these issues involved in unemployment benefit system, it is a high time not just to discuss COVID Relief Bill but also a permanent system in place, such as UBI (Universal Basic Income) aka Andrew Yang’s Freedom Dividend that would provide a safety floor for all, regardless if one is employed or unemployed. With such a system in place, no employers would need to pay into unemployment insurance for any of the employees and no unemployment benefit will be needed. Money would be directly sent to the American adult citizens, no questions asked and no testing would be required. In light of the future higher unemployment rate resulting from automation-robotics-artificial intelligence, our government needs to prepare for the need of a simple and effective system less likely to be corrupted. At the moment, UBI (Universal Basic Income) gets my vote.
I am a mother/wife/daughter, math professor, solar advocate, world traveler, yogi, artist, photographer, sharer of knowledge/information, and resident of Windermere, FL. I've worked professionally in applied math, engineering, medical research, and as a university math professor in IL and FL for about 20 years. My husband and I loved Disney and moved down to Central Florida initially as snowbirds. But we've come to love the warmth and friendly people offered by this community and decided to move down to Windermere, FL full time in 2006. I am now spending time sharing information/ knowledge online, promoting understanding of math and solar energy (via http://www.sunisthefuture.net ), and developing Windermere Sun (http://www.WindermereSun.com) as an online publication, sharing and promoting Community ABC's (Activities-Businesses-Collaborations) for healthier/happier/more sustainable living. In the following posts, I'll be sharing with you some of the reasons why Windermere has attracted us to become full-time residents of Central Florida region. Please feel free to leave your comments via email at "Contact Us" in the topbar above or via [email protected]
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Windermere Sun-Susan Sun Nunamaker
Founder/Owner/Editor/Producer of Windermere Sun
email: [email protected]