California’s Antiquated Computer Systems Caused Your Delayed EDD Unemployment Insurance Check. But knowing why isn’t of much consolation when you need that money for essentials.  But “why” can help you direct your efforts in the right direction — hold your California Assembly and Senate Representatives accountable.

I’ve earlier written about CA EDD delays in altering its systems to meet federal U.I. subsidy requirements during the Covid pandemic. Fed U.I. Money Delayed. This article covers another layer of government delay in processing claims.

California agencies rely on decades old computer systems.  EDD as other U.I. agencies in other states run their claims processing on a computer language, COBOL, that was used in the 70s and 80s, and is no longer the language of choice.  Few modern programmers bother to learn it.  Making changes in that language is slow and the expertise limited.  See  LAW360 Article

Governor Newsom responded by allocating funds to hire more staff to process claims is a stop gap, but the computers will remain the bottleneck.  While the pandemic has been a severe strain, government officials who claim it was unforeseeable fail in their duty to cover reasonably potential if not routine increases.  Official U.I. rates reported by the U.S. D.O.L. are understated by failing to include workers so discouraged that they’ve given up looking for work.  It also doesn’t include part time workers, or workers forced into lower paid jobs than they lost – a form of partial unemployment.  See Table of Unemployment Rate Statistics.

The point is that the computing capacity should have long ago been updated to meet the current 10% to 15% unemployment rate, a rate that is more likely in real numbers to be 20% to 25%, something not seen since the Great Depression of 1929.  As Congress contemplates billions of subsidies to the States, State budget officials will need to allocate sufficient funds to cover computer system upgrades, even if the epidemic is contained in 2021.

And leadership should take account that one agency is not the problem.  All California agencies have older systems that have been patched over the decades, but that are not designed for the speed and efficiency of large-scale processing.  California’s call centers were virtually inaccessible, or the answers given too basic to respond to the help needed.  Call center questions of course do not address the deficiencies of the processing system itself.  There has been a history of delays for Californians related to failures of technology upgrades.  See [LA TIMES 4-27-2020].  That history removes any excuse by top officials that this was an unforeseeable outcome caused by the pandemic.  That’s an easy excuse until we compare the ability of the state to process claims and Amazon to process “orders.”  The technology exists.  Why hasn’t it been installed?  ­

So, this pandemic has no virtues, but human being do, and one of those is to learn and adapt.  Better methods and changed behaviors result from hardship and pain.  May it be that E.D.D. learns and adapts from the pain of millions of Californians who were unable to sleep at night because of unpaid rent or credit card payments.  Use this link to find your California representative, and advocate for a budget to replace, not just patch, the current E.D.D. technology.  Find Your CA Representatives