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Kansas launches $48M effort to modernize unemployment insurance system

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Chris Woodward | The Center Square contributor

(The Center Square) – Kansas launched a 26-month-long effort on Wednesday to "modernize" its unemployment insurance (UI) system.

The $48 million effort seeks to overhaul the Kansas Department of Labor's (KDOL) current system that was created in the 1970s.

Gov. Laura Kelly in a statement on Wednesday called for U.S. Congress to release federal funds to help the effort move forward.

“Congress promised to help states modernize their unemployment insurance systems and allocated the resources to get them started,” Kelly said. “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.”

Former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius pushed for modernization in 2005, but the project was later abandoned by Gov. Sam Brownback's administration in 2011, according to the Kelly's office. 

The governor's office called that a “shortsighted decision,” one that led to the systemic inefficiencies and vulnerabilities that occurred within the state’s unemployment system during the pandemic.

KDOL’s new system promises to involve modern technology, improve customer service, and improve data security, among other things. 

The effort will be led by information technology experts at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

“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,” Kansas Labor Secretary Amber Shultz said.