Kentucky hopes to stay on course to overhaul its outdated technology for processing jobless claims in two to three years, despite renewing its search for a company to handle the job, the state's new labor secretary told lawmakers on Tuesday.
Labor Secretary Jamie Link fielded questions regarding the recent decision to go through a rebidding process in search of a vendor to modernize the pandemic-stressed unemployment insurance system. Link said his hope is to still “adhere as closely as possible” to the project’s initial timeframe.
“We intend to stick with that original two-to-three-year period,” he told the legislative panel.
Before the rebidding, state officials signaled that replacing the antiquated computer system was projected to cost around $40 million. That amount remains “the target number," Link said Tuesday.
In June, Link's predecessor said the state was in the “latter stages” of selecting a contractor to overhaul the claims-processing system. Weeks later, cybersecurity concerns led to the decision to rebid the work, Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration said. In doing so, it said, the state will request enhanced security measures to protect the personal and financial information of jobless claimants.
State officials hope to complete the new request for bids soon, followed by a compressed timeframe for companies to submit offers, Link said Tuesday. The veteran state official took over as labor secretary at the start of July, inheriting the task of improving the embattled unemployment system.
“It’s got to be efficient and easy to use," Link told lawmakers. "It has to be secure to minimize or eliminate fraud. And it has to meet the claimants’ needs to get them the funding they need, the services they need.”