TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Kansas Department of Labor is moving forward to modernize the state’s over 40-year-old Unemployment Insurance system.
A request for proposal (RFP) went out last week. The RFP is a document that announces details about a project, as well as solicits bids from companies.
The department is already receiving proposals and will review them, look at the backgrounds, and begin negotiations.
KDOL Secretary Amber Shultz said they plan to expedite the update as much as possible while working to keep the current system stable. Over the past year, the department has already been working to stabilize the underlying systems to handle the volume of pandemic-related claims and new federal programs.
The Kansas Legislature is considering Governor Laura Kelly’s $37.5 million budget request to replace KDOL’s aging system. Governor Kelly said fixing a system “that has been neglected for 40-plus years” is not be cheap but must be done. “We owe it to the people of Kansas.”
The modernization could take three to five years to complete. It could cost the state between $40 and $50 million.
KDOL Deputy Secretary Brett Flachsbarth said the pandemic and economic downtown reinforced just how important it is to modernize now. Many Kansans have been frustrated over not receiving benefit payments timely. The department also dealt with cases of fraud.
Secretary Shultz said she recognizes that there are still claimants who are waiting to get paid but as the office moves forward with stabilizing their systems, more and more claims are going to be paid.
Since March 15, 2020, KDOL has paid out over 4.2 million weekly claims totaling over $2.8 billion between regular unemployment and the federal pandemic programs.
Gov. Kelly has blamed past administrations for not taking up modernization efforts.