Assembly Grills EDD for Unemployment Check Delays

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SACRAMENTO–

“For this we are very sorry,” said Sharon Hilliard, the Employment Development Department’s Chief Deputy Director.

270,000 Californians went without service, went without answers, and most importantly went without unemployment benefits – rent, groceries, gas – as a result of a computer system update.

Assembly members at today’s hearings called to explore what happened pulled no punches.

“You’ve got to see there are lessons to be extracted from this. This is sort of our Donner Party,” said Assemblyman Ken Cooley of Rancho Cordova.

The management team responsible for the system changes said the only way they could have seen the problems coming is if they had done a more in-depth study beforehand.

We asked why that study wasn’t done.

“You know I can’t speak to why the management team didn’t go that direction. They really just thought that because in old system it was so quick,” Hilliard said.

EDD says, in a typical month, they pay-out $775,000 in over time to their employees. When the were dealing with the crisis in September, they paid-out $1.9 million.

Although the backlog of unemployment claims has been cleared, the system still isn’t functioning as it should.

Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego said she didn’t think the oversight team could reliably say when it would be fixed.

“We have a plan in place that it should be fixed in the next few weeks,” said Jason Salzetti, spokesperson for Deloitte Consulting, the group hired to oversee the computer update.

Deloitte has just been given a contract to upgrade California’s welfare and food stamp system too.

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