Gov. Ron DeSantis eyes investigation of failed unemployment website

desantis, ron - hand up
DeSantis expected fixes to take three months.

Floridians, many out of work since March, are still waiting for relief from the state. Fixes have been slow, but the Governor feared they would be slower.

And he is moving, however slowly, to investigating why things went so wrong with the site procured under the administration of his Republican predecessor.

DeSantis said that he thought the $77 million CONNECT website, procured under Gov. Rick Scott, would take “three months to fix, given how bad the system was.”

“Before I was Governor, the state paid $77 million for this thing … no question about it, totally not worth $77 million,” DeSantis said in Tampa Monday

DeSantis added that he wanted an investigation into the site’s procurement “once the dust has settled” to “just go and look and see what went on, why they paid this much.”

While DeSantis barely touched on the mechanics of how such an investigation would proceed, he spent much of Monday’s exchange with reporters discussing the site’s failures.

The Governor denoted “huge problems with this system that the state paid a lot of money for,” including “a lot of architectural problems” and “a capacity issue.”

“This has not been an easy thing,” he said, “but I can tell ya, it’s been worked on 24/7.”

“Three or four weeks ago, it was crashing … processing 1,500 payments a day. When you have hundreds of thousands of people, that won’t cut it,” DeSantis said, suggesting that not all filers have legitimate cases.

Some applicants “haven’t been working for quite some time,” which has led to “some numbers being inflated” of potential claimants.

“I get people are antsy, they want their money,” DeSantis said. “But at the end of the day, you want to see the checks cut, and that’s what was done.”

DeSantis continued a narrative of blaming Scott for the failings, but without mentioning his name.

On Friday, he called the state’s CONNECT website a “clunker … designed with all these different things, basically to fail, I think,” DeSantis said to reporters in Tallahassee.

DeSantis will hold a briefing, perhaps as early as Monday, with Department of Management Services (DMS) Secretary Jonathan Satter.

Satter was brought in to turn around the problem after Ken Lawson, Executive Director of the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), failed to deliver results.

“The agency said this was a good system a month ago. Obviously, that was not accurate,” DeSantis said Monday, his latest signal of dissatisfaction with Lawson.

Meanwhile, the President opined Monday on how “Democrats” and “old computers” (such as Florida’s website) were delaying federal unemployment payments.

Pandemic unemployment assistance, Pres. Donald Trump tweeted, is processed by the states.

In Florida, however, all the responsibility for “old computers” rests with Republicans, who have controlled state government for two decades.

Progress is being made, with roughly a third of the over 1.8 million claims having been processed so far.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


11 comments

  • Anthony Branch

    April 27, 2020 at 2:21 pm

    Yes, Florida Democrats need to remind many of those folks laid off (and who often don’t vote) that the Republicans have totally dominated this state for two decades. Whether former Governor Scott’s administration purposely designed the system to fail may not be clear. However, it is quite clear that unemployment benefits–and a safety net for low and modest income workers in general–is the last priority for Florida’s Republicans. I only hope that Biden’s campaign seizes on this as well.

    • Paula Reed

      April 28, 2020 at 10:13 am

      I applied for UI on March 13, 2020. Clearly I am eligible based on the eligibility standards listed. I was in the same job for 13 years pulling in well over $150,000 a year. I have paid taxes all my life and never ask for a hand out. I have been in “wage determination“ status for several weeks. Interestingly enough when stimulus checks went out there was no issue in identifying my ”wage” surpassed the threshold for a stimulus check. The Florida UI system is a mess! Emails go unanswered, calls are disconnected, and a complete lack of communication from the DOE exists. This is insane!

    • Arthur C Phillips

      April 30, 2020 at 7:54 pm

      Blame game needs to stop .Floridians need money now to feed are families just let the IRS fix it and issue are checks now.

  • jean

    April 28, 2020 at 11:55 am

    Is the length of time for unemployment going to be extended to 24 weeks as in all other states? when are the federal $600.00 checks going out and why are they in check form vs direct deposit as in other states?

  • Kristen vanveen

    April 28, 2020 at 11:55 am

    This system is so flawed, and it is not fair I applied on March 22nd and I’m still not processed my sister-in-law applied three weeks later and has already been approved and got a check. And no one to call to find out why I’ve been working in the restaurant business for many years, laid off at no fault of my own.

    • Jill Singleton

      April 29, 2020 at 9:18 am

      did you vote for your last governor or your current one

  • Mark Marciano

    April 28, 2020 at 3:18 pm

    It’s the stupidity of Disantis and Scott. They should clean house. Start with elections take voting record away from driving records it creates political I’ll will. For example I was in Srq DMV I asked why the 4,1/2 he wait for a renewal. Response “next time don’t vote as you did” I was threatened with arrest for trying to Lodge a complaint. Same goes for now. I am seeing more Democrat leaning citizens getting the unemployment as well as businesses that are owned by Democrats were the only approved for help. Yes I am saying racism it’s all it truly is. It must be said. And Desantis isn’t even refuting it. So he is ok with his supporters being trashed and unjustly being abused cause head afraid of disturbing the losers that do not belong in public settings. It just leads me to believe desantis is a Crist advocate and not truly a republican. He’s already invoked to he socialist agenda. People next election demand a fl native these outsiders don’t care about yoi, your heritage, or culture. They only care about fleecing you

  • Tom Ganski

    April 28, 2020 at 10:50 pm

    More proof that truth is better than fiction. You cannot make this up. A Republican giving us all a lesson in the cynical incompetence of, well, Republicans when it comes to governing. Governing DeSantis calling out Rick Scott.

  • BlueHeron

    April 29, 2020 at 1:16 am

    No need to opine on Rick Scott other than to say he was the worst thing to happen to Florida in a good many years. The gift that keeps on giving.

    DeSantis…. is he really this incompetent? Taking, talking, talking and never saying a gdamn thing. As if he’s the victim of it all and isn’t it terribly inconvenient. Nothing at all helpful or reassuring. What is he really doing? Oh, he went to the White House to kiss the ring and drink more kool-aid.
    The enormous amounts of money promised and still owed to Floridians is just not appearing as promised. The system is a problem but is it worthy of national attention? “Florida isn’t getting it done”. If he wanted to either fix it or create a “work around”, it would be done.
    My family, like so many others, are beyond desperate. Doesn’t seem to matter. At all.
    Now it could take 3 months or more? We will be destitute and still jobless.

    Will he try to hold off paying as promised for as long as possible? Will he open the beaches and other parts of the Florida economy and expect it all go back to normal?

    I’m starting to think this is all a DeSantis version of Kabuki theater. Citizens be damned.

Comments are closed.


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