Development

State contracts with Madison-based Flexion to begin updates to unemployment system

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The state Department of Workforce Development on Wednesday announced it has contracted with Madison-based software development company Flexion to begin updating the department’s decades-old unemployment system, which has been blamed for delaying the processing of claims during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The department’s plan to modernize the state’s unemployment system, which uses 60-year-old COBOL computing language, comes as the state tries to address ongoing concerns surrounding the state’s ability to quickly and effectively process, adjudicate and pay out unemployment claims to Wisconsinites across the state — including some who have reported waiting months for payment.

“With the pandemic, we saw a significant increase day-over-day back in March of 2020 with the sheer volume of claims that came in and it was exacerbated in our state by the antiquated technology and our inability to process, code and move through just the sheer volume of claims,” DWD Secretary Amy Pechacek said during a call with reporters Wednesday.

“In terms of guarantees, I think we’re putting all of the systems in place to ensure, to the best of our ability, that we are able to respond quickly to any changes we see in the future,” she added.

State officials said Flexion was chosen through a competitive RFP process that brought in 18 submissions.

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