KDOL’s unemployment process uses technology from the late 1970s


WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — For months, the Kansas Department of Labor has been plagued with an unprecedented number of unemployment claims. KDOL has said that an outdated system is part of the reason they have had issues. 

KDOL processes it’s unemployment claims through a mainframe computer installed in 1977. 

Bill Ramsey is a data expert and the CEO of Soteria Technology Solutions in Wichita. He said mainframe computers function purely on data entry. 

“The 1970s, they don’t have the kind of processing power that we have nowadays. It’s night and day,” said Ramsey. 

When told about the software the KDOL is still using, he was surprised it hadn’t been updated.

“Yeah, it’s old stuff, all the way across the board,” he added.

In the 1970s, mainframes could take up entire rooms. Secretary of Labor Amber Shultz says that is no longer the case, but the system definitely needs an overhaul. 

“We were able to migrate a lot of that into the hardware that’s more manageable, but it’s still, you know, that old green screen,” said Shultz. 

Ramsey said that even a totally upgraded mainframe computer from that era would have struggled during the pandemic with the number of claims being filed.

“It just can’t keep up. It can’t process the transactions as quickly as they need it to,” he said.

The Kansas Department of Labor is currently working on a modernization plan to avoid the same issues in the case of another economic downturn.

“Having a vision of the path forward to modernization and make sure we do that accurately and timely,” added Shultz.

The department hopes to have an upgraded system by the fall of 2023. 

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