EDD's much needed technology overhaul possibly a pandemic silver lining

If you just found out you need to file for unemployment payments, you will have a two-week wait that the state says should actually speed up your payments.

So, let's a look at the major suggestions the governor's Employment Development Department Taskforce released over the weekend. But, be advised: whether at the EDD, the DMV or the welfare system to name a few, the state has always has big trouble upgrading technology systems. 

The EDD's massive backlog of claims has been growing by 10,000 applications a day. So, over the weekend, the EDD announced it will not accept new unemployment insurance applications for two weeks so it can install new systems to speed the whole process up.

"'ID Me.' This will process about 90% automatically of all of the new applications," said Governor Gavin Newsom.

That's one of many suggestions made by the Governor's EDD Task Force.

"Our report which we have provided to EDD is over 70 recommendations. If EDD embraces our recommendations, they will be well on their path to creating a first-class user experience," said Secretary of Government Operations Yolanda Richardson.

Prior to this report, EDD was taking senior claims processors off processing to teach thousands of new hires how to process claims.

"What the task force soon found out was that by taking experienced people off their other work, that was having a significant impact in terms of increasing the backlog," said labor lawyer and Former EDD Director Michael Bernick.

Upgrading what can only be called an ancient computer system is a high, fast-track priority because in uploading documents, the system cannot read some of them.

"[It's a] computer system that goes back to the old COBOL system of the 1960s and 1970s," said Mr. Bernick.

One example, the old system cannot see the color red; the color showing your driver's license number and expiration.

Governor Newsom said it needed an upgrade, putting it bluntly, "[It needs to] be strewn to the waste bin of history."

The major priority is to clear up the claims and the backlog as fast as humanly and technically possible.

"We will be clearing backlog every single day between now and January," said EDD Director Sharon Hilliard.

Newsom said they will "Substantially address the backlog over the next 90 to 100 days." The goal is to not have a substantial impact on any people that are applying for the first time.

The root cause of all of the EDD's problems since the pandemic began was, is and will, for the foreseeable future remain the overwhelming tidal wave of claims, the likes of which the system never saw, even during the Great Recession.