comscore Kokua Line: State announces overhaul of unemployment insurance system, but most claimants won’t see upgrades right away | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Hawaii News | Kokua Line

Kokua Line: State announces overhaul of unemployment insurance system, but most claimants won’t see upgrades right away

Question: When is DLIR going to fix the mainframe, which it has said from the beginning is a source of delays in processing and paying out unemployment benefits we are entitled to? We’re a year into this now.

Answer: The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations is moving Hawaii’s unemployment benefits system off of the state government’s mainframe computer; to be clear, the contract underway doesn’t aim to “fix the mainframe,” as you asked, but to end the DLIR’s reliance on the aging system.

Also to be clear: These improvements will take months to implement; we don’t want to give claimants awaiting resolution of long-standing problems false hope that a solution is imminent.

The DLIR issued a news release Thursday announcing some details of the Unemployment Insurance System Modernization project, but not a timeline for the work, which will “replace an aging, legacy mainframe system designed in the 1980s” with a web-based application.

In a follow-up email, DLIR spokesman Bill Kunstman declined to estimate how quickly claimants will notice improvements, other than to confirm that upgrades would take months to implement. “Hopefully the mainframe doesn’t present significant problems during the transition,” he said.

The news release said the DLIR has executed a contract with vendor Solid State Operations Inc. to transform how the department operates. A DLIR Data Station “will replace all current essential Benefits, Tax and Appeals UI functionality with cloud-hosted, software-as-a-service appli­cation,” it said.

The new system will save money on IT costs, staff hours and training costs; prevent Unemployment Insurance-related fraud, waste and abuse; provide timely, uninterrupted benefits to unemployed workers of Hawaii; and provide accurate charges and modern services to Hawaii employers, it said.

Solid State previously overhauled Alabama’s UI system, launching improvements in January 2020 that contributed to that state having the most timely benefit payments in the country, according to the news release. “We are excited to work with Solid State and Alabama’s Department of Labor to renovate our system and expect to achieve the tremendous results Alabama accomplished,” said DLIR Director Anne Perreira-Eustaquio.

Q: Regarding the vaccine distribution, who are the “essential workers in group 1b”? I hear that phrase but don’t know who qualifies.

A: Hawaii’s COVID-19 portal, hawaiicovid19.com, summarizes “essential workers in 1b” as “first responders, corrections officers, emergency services dispatchers, critical transportation infrastructure workers (harbor and dock workers, public transportation, etc.), critical utilities (energy, water, etc.), teachers and childcare and educational support staff (childcare, early education, K‐12, post-secondary), those essential for federal, state, local government operations, and U.S. Postal Service employees.”

Q: Please reprint the number kupuna can call on Oahu to make a vaccination appointment. I can’t do anything online.

A: Kupuna age 75 and older may call the COVID-19 vaccination line at 691-2222, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. This number is for kupuna who want to make an appointment at The Queen’s Health Systems’ vaccination site at Blaisdell Center.

Mahalo

Recently, I was driving when I heard a loud clunking sound coming from under my car. Fortunately, there was a convenience store on the next corner, and I was able to turn into the area. Being a senior citizen, I was trying to figure out how I could bend down low enough to take a look, when a true knight in shining armor, Chris E., walked over and offered his services. He gingerly got on the ground and was able to pull off the metal under-piece that had been dragging on the road. A million mahalos to Chris!

— L.C., Ewa Beach


Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email kokualine@staradvertiser.com.


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