Topeka, Kan. — Today, the Kansas Department of Labor (KDOL) formally kicked off a $48 million, 26-month-long effort to modernize the state’s unemployment insurance (UI) system. Governor Laura Kelly also built on her previous support for the project by sending a letter to U.S. Secretary of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh urging him to provide additional funding previously allocated by the U.S. Congress for modernization.
“My administration is working quickly to update our antiquated computer systems so Kansans who need unemployment benefits don’t experience the same problems they faced during the pandemic,” Governor Kelly said. “Congress promised to help states modernize their unemployment insurance systems and allocated the resources to get them started. Kansas upheld its end of the deal by investing millions of dollars in a new system. It’s now time for the U.S. Department of Labor to release these modernization funds to the states as Congress directed. It’s the only way to ensure we are prepared for the next economic downturn.”
Kansas’ current mainframe system used to process UI benefits was created in the 1970s. The last major push to modernize began under Governor Sebelius in 2005 but was subsequently abandoned in 2011 by the Brownback administration. That shortsighted decision directly led to the systemic inefficiencies and vulnerabilities that occurred within the state’s unemployment system during the pandemic. The effort to bring Kansas’ UI system into the 21st century will be led by information technology experts Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).
“We have been looking forward to this day and to bringing everyone together to begin the formal process of developing a new, modernized unemployment system,” said Kansas Labor Secretary Amber Shultz. “TCS is a capable partner for KDOL to set a path for technology and process transformation that will enable the delivery of software that will be responsive to the future needs of the state.”
Upon completion, the KDOL’s new system will improve the experiences of unemployed Kansans and businesses that interact with the UI systems by:
- Modernizing technology: Replace the agency’s antiquated IT legacy system that supports unemployment insurance taxes, payment of unemployment insurance benefits, and delivery of employment services.
- Enhancing customer experience: Deliver improved services such as online self-service, automation, access to data, and integration with partners.
- Transforming business processes: Provide improved efficiencies in business processes, offer new tools for KDOL employees, and support more effective service delivery to Kansans.
- Improving data security: Better anticipate and respond to security threats and prevent unemployment insurance fraud.
- Providing expandable technology: Deliver a system capable of supporting new programs and functionality, as well as connections to other systems like workforce tools.
A page has been created on the KDOL website to keep the public updated on the modernization project’s progress. For the most recent information, visit www.dol.ks.gov/ui-modernization.
See a copy of Governor Kelly’s letter here.