Dane Eagle says CONNECT system will be ‘new shiny car’

The system will be new, but the infrastructure for it won't be.

Florida’s overhaul of its overwhelmed and underwhelming CONNECT unemployment benefits online system will turn it into a “new shiny car” when it’s all done, Economic Opportunity Executive Director Dane Eagle promised a Senate committee Wednesday.

Eagle responded to Democratic Sen. Annette Taddeo‘s lament that the disastrous $77 million system, which failed last year when Florida’s unemployment rate skyrocketed and millions tried in vain to access it, and which has essentially been abandoned now by the original prime contractor Deloitte Consulting, might need complete replacement.

“It seems like we keep fixing this old, beat-up car that doesn’t even run, right? And at some point you gotta say we need a new car,” urged Taddeo, of Miami.

Eagle was at the Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee pursuing confirmation for his appointment last September to run the the Department of Economic Opportunity, which operates CONNECT and has been overhauling it on the fly for much of the past year. He got the committee’s blessing for confirmation, in a 10-0 vote.

While there, Eagle pledged the overhaul should do the trick, while he characterized it as creating a whole new system, just on the old system’s framework. He said Deloitte should not be brought in, because so much on the system has been changed, because other companies have been brought in to fix it, and because investigations remain underway over how and why the system failed so badly in the first place.

“You’re not wrong, whatsoever,” Eagle told Taddeo. “What I’m proposing is a new system but it is using the system we have. There is some value to some of the coding, some of the mainframe infrastructure. Once we are finished, at least with this proposal, this will be a new car.

“If we can move forward with the cloud, more modular, the new user face, it will be a new shiny car,” Eagle said.

He said he’ll need more staff and more money, but anticipates having the new system working in about two years.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].

One comment

  • nicks

    March 15, 2021 at 1:05 pm

    it was a nice and infotainment article which has impressive words to engage its audience well

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