‘Totally shot’: As investigation looms, Gov. DeSantis derides unemployment site
Ron DeSantis

More details emerge on Inspector General investigation.

Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to wrestle with the state’s failed unemployment system, taking questions again Tuesday.

“We were in a situation where this thing was totally shot,” the Governor said to Sarasota reporters Tuesday about the $77 million CONNECT website.

The Governor said Monday, and reiterated Tuesday, that there would be an Inspector General probe of the spending and the lack of apparent safeguards in site development.

DeSantis noted that it was contracted in 2011, with “multiple amendments.”

“The engineers I talked to said for that type of money, [the site] doesn’t fit the bill,” the Governor noted.

As he has in media appearances throughout the state, the Governor laid the blame on those who came before him, and Ken Lawson, the appointed head of the Department of Economic Opportunity, whose stewardship of the unemployment system did not prepare it for what has hit since March.

The Governor described difficulties in replacing the site, which could have taken a year, as well as a way to “go around the system by hand” that was also a non-starter.

Upgrades, as the Governor has been saying, have led to quantifiable progress.

“If you look particularly in the last couple of weeks, you’re talking hundreds and hundreds of thousands of payments that have gone out,” DeSantis noted. “The last week or two has finally gotten us into a good spot.”

Weekend closures allow “major spikes of payments” on Mondays, the Governor noted, “processing all day and all night.”

DeSantis lauded DMS’s Jon Satter for “getting this moving,” saying “DEO previously just didn’t get it done.”

However, the Governor won’t “get involved in the blame,” saying his job is to fix problems.

That includes a three-week training period for call center employees that “disappointed” the Governor.

“It shouldn’t be that hard,” DeSantis said, noting that DEO said “we don’t need as many call centers” and referred people to what is now known as a tragically failed website.

If the Governor hadn’t made fixes, he speculated that checks may not have gone out in April at all.

Even as the Governor deflects blame, a Cabinet member wants a second look.

Nikki Fried, Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, fired off a letter Monday, also to the Inspector General, demanding an investigation of “potential mismanagement” of the unemployment system.

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


  • Kendra Gale

    May 5, 2020 at 1:31 pm

    I know they can’t do 2 things at once, so would it be possible to PAY THE PEOPLE THEIR MONEY! Investigate later. We are starving out here. personally 7 weeks, ZERO MONEY!! I’m not an idiot as the governor seems to think. They have my SS card, birth certificate, 1099’s, contracts from those people hiring me for contract work. Nobody is asking the governor about the PUA link and self employed. I am in several unemployment groups and this is going to get very ugly soon. People have no money, people are hiding food from their kids so they can parse it out and make it last. They don’t have money for gas to go get said food. I personally have people calling for payments and I tell them I have no UI…guess what?! THEY DON’T CARE! The governor and Mr Satter need to figure out how to fix this and send out the money!!

  • Matthew Schaller

    May 6, 2020 at 5:32 pm

    Florida paid DeLoitte Consulting $77,000,000 in 2013 to build a web application that should cost less than $5,000,000. Another $120,000,000 in various third-parties in 2020 to provide the necessary life support in order to handle the increase in load as a result of COVID-19 layoffs. Afterwards, another multi-million dollar contract will need to be awarded to a third party vendor such as Accenture in order to do a full rebuild. Meanwhile the State of Florida has only 26 IT-related job postings, none of which software engineering related, for an average salary of roughly half of what the private sector is paying.

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