With the hope of improving customer service after an unprecedented surge and backlog of claims, the Employment Development Department is retooling the way Californians gain access to unemployment insurance benefits. Earlier this month, the California Department of Technology issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to hire a firm that will provide Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) Services as it works to replace EDD’s beleaguered claimant benefit system.
According to the RFP, the department “seeks to assess, analyze, and redesign the business processes that impact the customer experience into a customer-centric business framework that leverages improvements and supporting technologies to deliver world-class customer service.”
As part of its Re-Imagining Benefit Systems Modernization project, EDD wants to improve service delivery, eliminate unnecessary complexity in their service process, and reduce administrative burden, among other needs, says to the 281page document.
The department has faced ongoing criticism during the most critical juncture of the COVID-19 pandemic, failing to deliver unemployment benefits to claimants as well as falling victim to fraud.
In a Jan. 2021 statement, the department noted that “between March 2020 and January 16, 2021, EDD processed 19.5 million claims and paid out $114 billion in unemployment benefits. EDD confirmed that 9.7 percent of payments have been made to fraudulent claims.”
The recently approved state budget includes $11.8 million from the General Fund to “reengage the planning and modernization of the EDD’s information technology systems” after years of planning and lessons learned from the pandemic. The department first started modernization efforts in 2015.
In Sep. 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed a strike team, led by Government Operations Secretary Yolanda Richardson and Code for America Founder Jennifer Pahlka, to address and implement necessary reform within the department.
In a report from the Richardson-led strike team, it’s noted that the backlog of unprocessed claims can be attributed to issues related to workflow and logistics.
In his revised state budget, Gov. Newsom acknowledged that “the pandemic has exposed many of EDD’s antiquated processes and outdated infrastructure, resulting in a delay or inability for many Californians to access (unemployment) benefits.”
The RFP seeks to hire a firm for a nine-month engagement with a firm that will start the project by the end of September.