Tennessee restored its online jobs and claims processing over the holiday weekend after a weeklong computer outage delayed jobless benefits to thousands of unemployed Tennesseans.
The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development announced Monday that the computer network service provider for the state’s jobs website repaired its operating network Sunday and service was restored Monday, so the state can again process jobless claims and provide job listings for those unemployed or looking for work.
“Both the unemployment and workforce development functions of Jobs4TN.gov are once again operating,” Chris Cannon, chief communications officer for the state employment agency, said in a statement Monday. “TDLWD understands and apologizes for the confusion and hardship this extended system outage caused Tennesseans who depend on Jobs4TN.gov for the critical services it provides.”
Cannon said those receiving jobless benefits can again file their claims electronically, and he asked that those who couldn’t file last week because of the computer outage make sure they do so this week by Friday “so staff can review your claim and set the corrective effective date.”
The outage jeopardized timely unemployment benefits of up to $275 per person last week for some 12,000 Tennesseans receiving ongoing jobless benefits because they were laid off from previous jobs and and are still looking for other work.
Cannon said delays in payments could continue, but eligible claimants will eventually be paid the full amount of their benefits.
“Please note that staff will need to review your application to determine the eligibility of your claim, and that will take multiple weeks to complete,” the state agency said in a memo to jobless claimants.
Geographic Solutions Inc., which provides online job claims processing and information systems for about three dozen states, including Tennessee, was hit with a cyberattack June 26.
Paul Toomey, president of the Palm Harbor, Florida-based Geographic Solutions, said his company’s computers were hit with “anomalous activity,” so the company immediately took the networks offline to halt the activity. Toomey said Geographic Solutions employed outside specialists to determine the cause and scope of the cyberattack.
Cannon said the latest information from Geographic Solutions indicates no personal data was accessed and no data was removed from its network operations center. But during the outage, claims couldn’t be processed or new jobs posted to the online employment service.
On Friday, U.S. Department of Labor spokeswoman Monica Vareen said the Geographic Solutions computer problems were still affecting claims processing in at least five states — Arizona, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada and Tennessee.
The head of a key legislative committee that funds the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development — Senate Commerce and Labor Committee Chairman Paul Bailey, R-Sparta, — said last week the state labor agency should have had a better backup plan to avoid the shutdown of unemployment claims and benefits. Bailey called the computer network shutdown “a failure” of the labor agency.
“The General Assembly provided funds to update the department’s antiquated system, and every measure should be taken to streamline this move,” he said.
— Compiled by Dave Flessner