Former Insiders Challenge Outdated DETR Complaints Computer System

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) – The Nevada employment agency is still letting down thousands of people who can’t collect their benefits.

And a recent court ruling against PUA claimants means the state won’t be forced to start making large-scale payments.

The Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, also known as DETR, has made several apologies for the backlog. 13 Survey of interviews with experts and former insiders who say it doesn’t add up.

We all know our state’s system is overwhelmed, with Nevada having the highest unemployment rate in the country. But DETR is designed not only to help people in immediate need, but also to protect our economy. So why does it keep failing so much?

David Day created a Youtube video to illustrate how so many claimants are caught between PUA and regular unemployment.

“I spoke with someone on May 17th from PUA who said to me: ‘Even though I know that you are going to be eligible for PUA, because you are a self-employed and a concert worker, you still have to go through by unemployment insurance [regular Unemployment Insurance] and be refused first. ‘”

A model of inefficiency, the DETR unemployment system remains a costly headache for claimants like David Day. He has several letters confirming his eligibility, but still no money.

Why?

From DETR officials to the district court judge to the governor, we always hear the same thing.

“We know the state is dealing with an outdated computer system,” Governor Sisolak said at a press briefing.

This is one of the main things they blame for the delays in processing claims and paying people.

But Steve Zuelke, a former director of DETR who had been with the agency for over 25 years, says otherwise.

“I think there were excuses that were made, circumstances that were, for lack of a better term, played out.”

In court cases filed in a class action lawsuit against a concert worker for unpaid PUA claims, Zuelke said the system “… is not archaic”, calling it “one of the systems the most modern nationwide “.

In fact, DETR’s computer system underwent a $ 40 million upgrade less than five years ago.

But former DETR referee Laura Feher says it hasn’t helped much.

Darcy Spears: “So what did we get for that $ 40 million?”

Laura: “We have a terrible system. To this day, I mean, it’s really not a very good system.

A former DETR software engineer who asked not to be identified confirms that the DETR computer system is not obsolete or obsolete, but that it is not being used well. He says DETR built and maintains the system on just one or two servers, which may explain why it has to be shut down so often for maintenance.

And when it comes to DETR, “maintenance” means thousands of people are left out of the system… thousands of potential payments delayed. And it often happens.

According to e-mails coming directly from DETR, the system was down on April 11 and 18; May 2, 9 and 16; June 6, 20 and 27; July 2, 29 and 30; August 1, 8, 15 and 22.

And those dates don’t include all of the times we’ve heard requesters complaining that the website is malfunctioning or crashing. DETR uses the term “Limitation”.

Andreas Stefik, professor of computer science at UNLV, says blackouts raise a red flag.

“It is without a doubt an extremely important system,” says Stefik. “And so whenever you have something critical to people’s lives, there has to be an element of security in terms of reliability. “

And if there is a problem, he says, solve it!

“Well… if they say it’s run down, why?” What is the technical problem they encounter? Stefik asks.

DETR tells us that their system is on an Oracle platform using the Java programming language. It’s not as old as what other states are still using – a COBOL-based code that dates back to the ’70s.

Still, fixing the system is easier said than done, says longtime employee Laura Feher. “After working for unemployment for so many years, I have always said: ‘whether it is logical or reasonable, unemployment [DETR] not going to do it, ”she said.

At this point, we learned that DETR already had a system in place to mitigate a crisis. It’s called DUA or Disaster Unemployment Assistance.

As court records from the PUA trial show, Congress-based pandemic unemployment assistance, in many ways, verbatim about pre-existing disaster relief programs.

But Nevada DETR chose to use an outside vendor and build a whole new system.

“I heard they were concerned that the PUA would not become functional if it were to continue in the existing system,” says former Nevada Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, who heads a task force for clean up the backlog of complaints.

Darcy: “What about the concept of two computer systems? Why do they need two? “

Barbara: “In the end, in my opinion, we need one.”

Steve Zuelke says it comes down to failed leadership.

“I don’t think they have enough experience to understand what tools are available to them both administratively and technologically.

Running with two systems makes the whole complicated process even worse, Buckley explains. But right now, they don’t want to slow down payments to fit in.

“It has to come after the backlog is resolved, but it’s clearly a problem,” Buckley says. “You can’t have two computer systems. “

The Special Hearing Master assigned in the PUA lawsuit, Jason Guinasso, echoes this in this recent report to the court.

He said there should be a “one stop shop … to administer unemployment benefits in Nevada” with “the same program, same process, and same people” working on claims.

He also said: “Requiring people to move from one program and process to another creates an unnecessary additional administrative layer which is redundant, time consuming and frustrating for applicants.

David Day is still waiting for his money and likens it to a dysfunctional family.

“The way I see it is like DETR is the parents of the household,” says David. “And in the house lives PUA: one child, and UI: two children. Anyone who lives in the same house, for example, why wouldn’t you allow your children to talk to each other? You all live in the same house!

Regarding the reliability issue, the former DETR software engineer said management had been warned that it was not about whether, but when the system would crash or be hacked if any measures were not implemented during the upgrade.

DETR confirms that it received $ 40,987,110 in federal stimulus funds that were used to upgrade its technology. And they provided the following statement:

DETR systems are a very complex IT environment made up of several applications and hardware components. As with any complex system environment, regular system maintenance and updates are necessary for optimization; it is a time consuming process and cannot be performed while the system is in use. To make sure people are in the know, we send out regular notifications to remind people to log out and then revisit the site (s) when the job is done.

The integrated UINv benefit, call and tax modules were put into operation in 2015. The system is constantly updated and upgraded for new features, functions and problem solving.

We found out that it might actually be closer to $ 45 million, but we’re still waiting for answers from DETR on this, why they’re calling their system obsolete, and what they’ve done about it.


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Gordon K. Morehouse