The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced that it will be moving forward to modernize Wisconsin's outdated Unemployment Insurance (UI) computer system without legislative funding.
DWD states that new federal grant funding allowed them to contract with technology experts who will advise during the updating process.
"Typically, it can take over a year just to lay out the requirements for a full system overhaul of this scale," DWD Secretary-designee Amy Pechacek said. "The department is on an aggressive timeline to begin a full-scale modernization of the UI system, so we’ve worked to start this project as quickly as possible. Building on DWD's success over the past four months, we are taking a nimbler approach to modernization that can provide faster results with the federal funding that is available."
DWD signed a Memorandum of Understanding on March 9 to receive no-cost preliminary consulting services from non-profit U.S. Digital Response (USDR) to help lay the framework for DWD's modernization project.
Gov. Tony Evers called the current UI computer system, which was developed in the early 1970's "antiquated" and called for modernization after DWD's tremendous backlog during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last month Gov. Evers issued a statement saying, "After these issues with our unemployment system were raised during the Great Recession and now again during COVID-19, it would be callous and irresponsible for any elected official to sit around and wait for the next economic crisis while taking no action to remedy a predictable outcome. Replacing this system will take years, that’s why it should have been done years ago, and it's why I am urging you today to give this issue immediate consideration and action,” Gov. Evers continued. “I believe—and I sure hope you would agree—that this time Wisconsinites deserve better than getting the runaround. This problem and the people we serve cannot and should not have to wait. Again. And here’s the bottom line: I don’t care who gets the credit, I just want to get it done.”