$100 million EDD payment system broken from the start, insiders say

6:00 PM, Oct 10, 2013   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO, CA - State unemployment officials were aware that a new $100 million automated payment system had several problems that were not corrected before it launched Labor Day weekend, according to experts who have reviewed documents uncovered by News10. Those problems - which California Employment Development Department called a "glitch" - delayed payments to nearly 100,000 state residents.

Danell Elswick was among those who waited for unemployment benefits for several weeks while EDD tried to figure out what went wrong.

"As a parent you want to provide for your kids, and for me it's the idea that we are chipping away at our savings for our child," Elswick said. "I want to be able to feed him, clothe him, keep him safe - of course - and keep him in a home."

But Elswick said making ends meet became increasingly more difficult as the weeks wore on without being paid.

The struggles of Elswick and others whose EDD payments were delayed stem from technical problems with a project called Continued Claims Redesign. News10 has uncovered EDD documents that experts said show that EDD employees warned project managers during weekly meetings over how the project was being tested. One document shows how an EDD Senior Systems Analyst told project managers there is, "insufficient evidence of adequate Unit Testing by DLT."

DLT refers to Deloitte Consulting, EDD's contractor on the project.

Another report states that project modules called "Quality Builds" had "deficiencies" that required early versions of the modules to be "reworked." But insiders said the modules were not repaired. Instead, the problems were passed along to the next modules.

Insiders and IT experts said that causes problems within the system to snowball. They likened it to trying to build a puzzle around two mismatching pieces that have been forced together.

In another report that Systems Analyst wrote, "DRS items for a QB are not being addressed after multiple QB deliveries." Insiders and other experts said that again shows how the pieces were being forced together. They say putting together an IT project that way makes it almost impossible for the system to work properly when it's completed.

Each segment of this 3-year-plus year project could be represented as a puzzle piece - called a quality build by IT experts, insiders and other IT experts said. All of those pieces assembled correctly would be a fully functioning automated payment system. But insiders told News10, project managers tried to force pieces together that didn't fit together, and by the time the system was released over the Labor Day weekend it was a "mess."

EDD spokesperson Loree Levy called the malfunctioning system a "glitch."

EDD whistleblowers said they voiced concerns that the system would not work right up until the day it went live, but EDD managers ignored them and implemented the automated payment system anyway.

News10 has reached out to former and current managers at EDD to talk about this documentation and the allegations employees' concerns were not addressed and were referred to Levy.

Deloitte Consulting also did not comment on the allegations after multiple requests to talk to its project managers.

State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, is calling for an investigation into what went wrong with the $100 million project.

by Thom Jensen, TJensen@news10.net


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