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IT expert reviews DEO internal audit on unemployment system changes

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Posted at 6:04 PM, Mar 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-02 18:21:40-05

TAMPA, Fla. — Technology continues to change rapidly and the Department of Economic Opportunity knows the CONNECT system is never gonna cut it.

“Based on the report I’ve seen, I do think that they are heading in the right direction,” said Matthew Froning, an IT expert and CEO of “SAFE” or Security Assurance Facilitation Experts.

The report recommends a move to a cloud-based server. DEO’s executive director Dane Eagle says the state began on that path when COVID-19 hit. Those plans were squashed quickly as hundreds of thousands of people began flooding the system attempting to get benefits.

RELATED: Lawmakers hear results of internal audit on Florida's unemployment system

Froning’s son was in that mix.

“It was a mess for him,” he said. “It took 7 to 8 months before he wound up getting anything.”

The department saw a more than 10,000% increase in claims over an 8-week period of time, according to recent audit results, and because the DEO’s software was older it wasn’t capable of keeping up.

Froning says the bandwidth just wasn’t there and compares it to shopping in-person versus online.

“If you’ve got a shopping cart and you go over to Publix and you’ve only got one shopping cart, well you can fill that shopping cart to the top, and then that’s it, you run out of space right?” he said.

Then you have to go get another shopping cart and stores only carry so many carts which means they can only handle so many shoppers at a time. He says online shopping carts are capable of handling an endless number of items and shoppers and that’s what using a cloud-based server is like.

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“I think it really will help benefit not just the claimants but everybody that’s working behind the scenes as well for them to complete their jobs,” he said.

Eagle says they’re looking for cloud providers to contract with and Froning thinks the state should start with a brand new system.

“Re-writing code across an entire system can be even more cumbersome and take longer than just starting fresh,” he said.

He says the state should do their research to find a company that can keep up with their demands and test the system when it’s finished to figure out its thresholds.

He says the good thing about cloud-based servers is that if the demand or traffic to the website increases, the bandwidth does automatically. When it’s no longer needed, it is scaled back.