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In Budget Proposal, Employment Department Seeks Millions for Tech Work

The California Employment Development Department has submitted a budget change proposal seeking more than $20 million from the General Fund over three fiscal years, in part to deliver “technical services for the new technologies implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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The state department charged with connecting job seekers and employers is seeking many millions from the General Fund to keep supporting new technologies.

In a recent budget change proposal (BCP), the California Employment Development Department is requesting $23.5 million from the General Fund in the 2022-23, 2023-24, and 2024-25 Fiscal Years for continued funding of the IT Branch’s (ITB) “122 Unemployment Insurance (UI) workload positions to maintain support for current and future workload.” Among the takeaways:

  • More specifically, this ask is for funding for “critical lines of business in the IT organization in support of UI claims processing,” per the BCP. The funding will enable ITB staff to “continue providing technical services for the new technologies implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic,” supports the Newsom administration’s “strategic goal of sustainable business operations” by addressing EDD’s immediate challenges, and “will ensure” the department “addresses issues raised by the California State Auditor, Strike Team, and the Legislature” on the processing of benefit payments. The department “has no other options” for obtaining additional funding, it said, pointing out that the request also lines up with the California Department of Technology’s goals in its Vision 2023 plan, including creating “confident, empowered multidisciplinary teams,” rolling out accessible, “fast, dependable and secure public services,” speeding up the building of digital government, ensuring the equitability and inclusiveness of public services and making “common technology” easy for government to “access, use, share and reuse.”
  • Demands placed on EDD during the pandemic, centered in the “UI program area for IT services,” sparked new initiatives to improve customer service, implement mandatory work and conduct fraud mitigation. The department saw a “substantial increase” in its benefits payments workload and stood up new technologies and security to improve that system. Federal funding then paid for “overtime and arduous pay,” but the department said it won’t be able to maintain its current IT staffing level as federal funding starts to decrease.
  • The funds sought via this BCP will “directly support the UI benefit payment process” and activities including “application development and support for (UI Online) UIO and California Unemployment Benefit Services” apps; support for the UI mainframe app; facilitating the development of “new technical solutions and modifications” to EDD apps that interface with UIO; maintenance and operations to UIO, its system, interfaces and environments; and testing of new systems, subsystems and programs. The money will also go toward support of the UI Branch’s “contact centers applications and infrastructure including Interactive Voice Response, Virtual Call Center, and telephony” like voice over Internet protocol; imaging, data capture and data perfection; work on paper checks; operational support for the department’s document management system infrastructure; and IT support for the Office of Documents, Publications and Distribution. The funding will also support development and improvement of “the SQL server database administrator, Embarcadero ER/Studio Data Modeling tool, SQL server reporting services administrator, and SQL Server Integration Services” that support UI; and development and implementation of “comprehensive business intelligence tools and strategies” enabling raw data to become business insights.
  • EDD recommended approval of the funding as requested, to continue support for 122 UI workload positions at ITB – while noting this will require a General Fund budget augmentation. The funding, it said, will offer ITB the resources it needs to “continue to fulfill immediate operational needs” in support of UI; to “support new technologies for UI claims processing” rolled out during the pandemic; and to underpin ITB as it supports EDD’s UI program “by ensuring continuity of operations.”
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.