State Turned Down Software Upgrade

A software company urged the state of Kansas to upgrade its computer system for handling claims for unemployment benefits, but the state didn’t heed that advice five years before a flood of fraudulent claims during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Oracle proposed in 2015 that the Kansas Department of Labor do the upgrade to prevent fraud.

The department had put a modernization project on hold in 2011.

In response to Oracle’s proposal, Department of Labor leaders concluded much of an upgrade could be handled in-house, even though the agency had cut its information technology staff.

Michael Blatchford, an IT architect on the canceled modernization project, said accepting Oracle’s proposal would have minimized fraud.

A recent legislative audit estimated that Kansas may have paid roughly $700 million in fraudulent claims from January 2020 through February 2021.