TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) — After thousands of Kansans experienced problems with getting unemployment benefits through the Kansas Department of Labor during the pandemic, the state is taking action to resolve one of the issues – its antiquated computer system.

The KDOL said it has chosen Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) to update the IT-legacy system used to process unemployment insurance claims.

TCS said its unemployment insurance system will provide Kansans with online self-service functions, including the ability to file new claims, certify weekly claims, check the status of benefit payments, and file appeals. It also said Kansas employers will be able to register their businesses online, make payments and appeals online, and file real-time wage reports.

The KDOL said the cost is not public record yet. A spokesperson said she will forward it to us when it is available.

As for the timeline, the KDOL is looking at three to five years until the completion of the modernization project.

“I promised that we would not kick the unemployment modernization can down the road any longer,” Governor Laura Kelly said in a news release. “The selection of this vendor allows us to begin the work of modernization quickly so that we can ultimately better serve Kansans.”

The current mainframe system was launched in the 1970s. A previous modernization effort was stopped in 2011. Kelly, a Democrat, has blamed the Republican leadership in 2011 for ending that modernization effort.

She has said that if the system had been modernized then, it would not have failed during the pandemic.

TCS was selected after an open-bid process that started last year. The KDOL says TCS is a leading global IT services and consulting organization that has partnered with several U.S. states to modernize their unemployment insurance systems, including Connecticut, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New York and Wyoming.

The KDOL said choosing TCS launches a multi-year initiative to transform the agency’s business processes and core technology systems.

“We are committed to ensuring that our state is poised to address the challenges of today, but also the needs of tomorrow,” KDOL Secretary Amber Shultz said. “Never again will Kansans be left behind during their time of need.”

She said KDOL has created a team to work with TCS and representatives from other agencies to ensure a smooth transition with the new unemployment insurance system.