At a Thursday media conference, Gov. Ron DeSantis rolled out an executive order designed to resolved problems with the state’s failed unemployment claims system.
The Governor vowed to devote more resources to handling the crush of job seekers, many of whom spend hours, even days, in fruitless attempts on the state’s dysfunctional website to apply for benefits.
“All hands on deck” was how he described the approach to media.
The order notes that “thousands of Floridians are seeking help from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (“DEO”) Reemployment Assistance Program leading to significantly greater demand upon DEO’s personnel, infrastructure, technology, and resources.”
Indeed, reports of day-long waits on hold and fruitless attempts to log on to the system have become commonplace.
In hopes of resolving these issues, the Governor directed “all executive agency heads, in consultation with the Department of Management Services (“DMS”), to identify and deploy executive agency personnel to assist DEO with their reemployment assistance efforts, including call center operations and other citizen services.”
“In order to improve the operation and responsiveness of DEO’s reemployment assistance efforts, assigned personnel shall, to the extent reasonably possible, cease their current governmental responsibilities and fully devote their services to the DEO program. All deployed personnel shall maintain current benefits and salary and DEO shall determine how best to quickly utilize these employees to serve Floridians negatively impacted by COVID-19.”
Contemplated as a fix are paper applications.
“DEO shall pursue, in addition to internet and telephonic reemployment applications, new or alternative forms and methods for receiving applications, including making paper applications readily available on DEO’s website and throughout the state at each of the 24 Local Workforce Development Boards,” the order asserts.
Outside contractors will process and scan those applications.
Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) Executive Director Ken Lawson said earlier Thursday that his department was working on providing paper applications to residents.
Over 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — and 227,000 new unemployment claims last week came from Floridians, triple the all-time record for claims, which had been set the prior week.