Unemployment benefits were delayed this week for more than 12,000 Tennesseans due to computer loss should be reinstated next week if, as expected, computer network service for the state employment agency is restored today. weekend, officials said Thursday.
The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development must suspend processing unemployment claims and posting job listings this week after its website, Jobs4TN.gov, was shut down Sunday due to a potential cyberattack against the state’s computer software vendor, Geographic Solutions Inc.
Paul Toomey, president of Geographic Solutions based in Palm Harbor, Florida, said he expects his company to be able to restore computer service in the fourth week of July to allow the agency to hire Tennessee to resume claims and benefit processing next week.
“We recently identified anomalous activity on our network and then took the Jobs4TN system offline to stop the activity,” Toomey said in a statement released Thursday. “Our current focus is to work around the clock to bring Jobs4TN back online. We expect this to happen before the fourth holiday in July.”
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Tennessee notified recipients of unemployment benefits and owners seeking to process new removals regarding computer network losses on Sunday, but the state was unable to process claims or grants. access to job listings on its website throughout the week, jeopardizing weekly benefits for the unemployed and seekers. for other work.
Most unemployed workers who are still looking for work may be eligible to receive up to $ 275 per week in unemployment benefit checks. But payments worth up to $ 3 million for many struggling Tennessee workers across the state are now delayed, perhaps until the middle of next week.
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“If the system is available on Saturday, claimants can certify for the week ending June 25, and then they will start certification on Sunday for the week ending July 2,” Chris Cannon said. , chief communications officer for the state labor department, said. in an email Thursday. “They will receive their payment on Wednesday or Thursday, due to the holiday on Monday.”
If the loss of the computer cannot be fixed until after the weekend, Cannon said a claimant can prove their eligibility once the system is back online and they receive their paid for this week and the next within 48 hours of filing, according to Cannon.
Toomey said Geographic Solutions is working with outside specialists to determine the cause and scope of the cyberattack.
“That investigation is still ongoing, and we are taking steps to prevent it from happening again,” Toomey said.
Cannon said the latest information from Geographic Solutions shows that no personal data has been accessed and no data has been taken from its network operations center.
But the head of a key legislative committee that funds the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development – Chairman of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee Paul Bailey (R -Sparta) – said the state labor agency should have a you better backup plan to avoid missing out this week. .
In a statement earlier this week, Bailey called the closure of the computer network “a failure” by the employment agency.
“There’s no absolute excuse anymore,” Bailey said. “The General Assembly has provided funds to update the department’s old system, and every step needs to be taken to streamline this step.”
Michele Johnson, co-founder and executive director of the Tennessee Justice Center in Nashville, said this week’s delay in paying Tennessee unemployment benefits “is another example of this state failing the middle class and the poor. who are Tennesseans.
“Life expectancy keeps going in the wrong direction because of leadership failures like this that keep regular Tennesseans from thriving,” he said.
Tennessee is one of three dozen states that use Geographic Solutions for job claims and information systems. Other states also reported that their job search websites were shut down this week due to a cyberattack.
Contact Dave Flessner at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6340. Follow him on Twitter @dflessner1.