TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida's unemployment system continues to be a massive problem and point of contention between Gov. Ron DeSantis and the media.
On Monday, DeSantis said the state has paid more than $2 billion in benefits. He also said 97 percent of valid, eligible, unique claims have been paid.
When a reporter asked him about people who applied in March and still haven't seen money, the governor told the reporter he should be vetting individuals complaining about the system.
"If someone applies and doesn’t support a social security number, guess what? You can’t pay under those circumstances."
While some of the backlog can be blamed on the global pandemic, Florida's unemployment system has been a disaster for years, something Governor DeSantis has admitted time and time again.
That's why the governor ordered an investigation into the unemployment system by the chief inspector general.
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried also called for an investigation in early May.
She said, "Following several audit reports detailing over 600 problems with the CONNECT unemployment system, about which the Governor was briefed in 2019, thousands of Floridians have struggled to receive unemployment assistance during COVID-19 due to technology and staffing issues."
10 Tampa Bay tracked down that 2019 audit which was issued March 27, 2019, exactly one year before the coronavirus crisis.
The audit summary explains the purpose of the audit to evaluate design, technology, and overall efficiency. It also revealed problems found two years earlier had not been fixed saying, “The results of our follow-up procedures disclosed that many of the findings in our report No. 2017-039 were not corrected.”
Altogether, the audit listed 17 findings revealing flaws with the RA (Reemployment Assistance, also known as CONNECT) System.
Here are a few:
Finding 2: Despite restrictions in State law, the Department continues to permit the use of a social security number as the claimant user identification code for claimants using the RA System.
Finding 5: RA System control deficiencies causing language translation errors on forms and documents and incorrect error messages continue to exist.
Finding 9: The Department lacked a proactive approach to identify and analyze RA System technical system errors and other RA System defects that may prevent or hinder the processing of RA System data.
In a press briefing earlier this month the governor said the audit never reached his desk. 10 Tampa Bay reached out to the governor's office for comment. We have not heard back.
Chief Inspector General Melinda Miguel confirmed she will be using the 2019 audit as part of her investigation.
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