Florida Gov. Rick Scott's reelection campaign theme may be "It's Working," but the state's expensive new unemployment claims web site is definitely not.
Since it went live October 15, the new site Connect has been unable to recognize some claimants' personal information, according to complaints lodged on the state's Department of Economic Opportunity Facebook page.
And many of those unable to file new claims say their payments were already delayed this month after the site went offline for a week while the new $63-million site launched.
“It means groceries in my cabinet, it means maybe paying my water bill on Monday,” one claimant told WOKV News.
There is no official count of how many of Florida's nearly 240,000 unemployment recipients may have been affected by Connect's glitches.
Yet frustrated claimants reportedly lined up at local unemployment centers, where staff could only direct them to the state's 1-800 help line, which in turn was either busy or hung up on them.
Meanwhile DEO reports a successful rollout of the new site, saying more than 50,000 Floridians filed claims in its first two days, although an internal email obtained by the Tampa Bay Times paints a different picture.
"The system should become more stable as we daily progress as changes/fixes are being moved into production on a regular basis," a DEO email reads. "It is important that we do not convey the wrong message to the public, so please do not advise claimants that the system is down unless official word from management is received."
Connect, which replaced a 30-year-old system, was built by New York-based developers Deloitte, who are currently under review for a rocky rollout of a similar web site in Massachusetts, reports the Palm Beach Post.
Internal documents show that Florida was ready to fire the company after "struggles in the design phase" but a DEO spokesperson told Tampa Bay Times that they decided to stick with Deloitte with added oversight as opposed to delaying a new system by hiring someone else.
The health of the Florida's unemployment claims web site is critical after Gov. Rick Scott made it mandatory that all new claims be filed online -- a mandate that the U.S. Labor Department is currently reviewing for possibly violating civil rights.