The state Department of Labor is halfway through its four-year strategic modernization plan, an ongoing effort that will reduce call volume, enhance customer experience, and swiftly connect New Yorkers to unemployment insurance benefits.
NYSDOL is currently collaborating with the state Office of Information Technology Services to develop and implement technological solutions that will improve the UI benefit application process, check on the status of claims, and address claim issues with unprecedented efficiency with the goal of handling 100 percent of customer inquiries.
The plan is part of an ongoing DOL effort to enhance the overall customer experience and reduce fraud.
“The struggles that New York’s workforce experienced during the pandemic showed us how crucial it is to be able to connect job searchers with employers,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said. “As we rebuild from the economic effects of the pandemic, we must continue to improve the systems that allow us to get money back into New Yorkers’ hands. I commend the Department of Labor for their swift work throughout the pandemic to help New Yorkers facing hardship, and I look forward to continuing to work with them as we address gaps in our infrastructure.”
Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said the department of Labor “was already working to improve the unemployment system, but the pandemic put that on the fast track in order to swiftly deliver $105 billion in assistance to nearly 5 million New Yorkers. Since then, the department has embraced innovative solutions and we continue to evolve to better serve New Yorkers. Our ability to adapt is why so many states continue to look to us for leadership throughout this global health crisis.”
Over the next 24 months, NYSDOL, in partnership with ITS, will:
• Develop and implement a new omni-channel contact center that will utilize bot-driven technology designed to answer specific questions about a customer’s claim.
• Unveil an upgraded forms management system that will work with the current system to enable customers to submit proper forms for rapid processing.
• Establish a new intranet system to improve NYSDOL internal training and assist Call Center staff in streamlining the claims process for greater efficiency.
• Advance the Department’s UI system modernization project, which will replace the antiquated legacy mainframe with a state-of-the-art, real-time system.
• Create a new operating model that will deliver operational efficiencies, improve, and increase agent and customer engagement.
NYSDOL’s Unemployment Insurance Division is funded by USDOL. Budgeting is determined by federal standards for processing UI claims based on workload and production. Current call volume has dramatically decreased compared to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and declined again with the expiration of extended federal benefits.
When the COVID-19 pandemic initially hit New York state, NYSDOL received an unprecedented surge in UI claims. Officials said during the first week that claims were impacted by the pandemic, NYSDOL received over 1,734,100 total calls, inundating the system. NYSDOL quickly adapted and extended call center availability, dedicated additional staff to answer calls, hired additional staff, streamlined the claims process, and added servers to increase bandwidth.
NYSDOL continues to evaluate processes and adjust as necessary while safeguarding this critical support system for New Yorkers. As New York State continues to navigate the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, NYSDOL remains committed to exploring opportunities to modernize systems.