SACRAMENTO, CA - The California Employment Development Department denied requests to release documents that should have been made available to the public.
News10 filed a request under the California Public Records Act to look at documents that could shed light on what public employees and a state contractor were doing to fix the broken system as it was being built.
On Labor Day, the EDD launched its $100 million system update that would pay claimants their unemployment benefits automatically. However, a glitch in the system left thousands of Californians without unemployment benefits. EDD has said for more than two weeks that it has cleared a backlog of past due payments to the unemployed, but sources inside EDD said the backlog is still more than 100,000 claimants.
EDD insiders gave News10 the Open Issues reports that were posted on SharePoint for people who worked on the project to build the California Unemployment Benefits Services, or CUBS. The weekly reports updated the project's team members on the system's status. The reports showed there were multiple defects that were not being addressed, even as the EDD's contractor Deloitte Consulting was being paid tens of millions of dollars.
Even though the documents requested from the EDD do not contain social security numbers or other information, which is protected under the California Public Records Act, the EDD has refused those requests.
"While the PRA does allow for public inspection of documents, it does also provide for the agency to review such documents first to ensure any confidential information is not inadvertently released," EDD spokesperson Loree Levy said.
Levy and an EDD attorney said copies of other records News10 requested will not be available for at least two months.
The EDD also refused to let News10 interview current and previous managers at the EDD who should have intimate knowledge about the system update. Interview requests with the department's acting director Sharon Hilliard, its IT Branch Manager Gail Overhouse or the manager of the unemployment insurance branch Sabrina Reed were denied.
The computer project, known as the Continued Claims Redesign, was supposed to cost taxpayers $52 million when it went out to bid in 2007. The contractor hired to do the work, Deloitte Consulting, has already been paid at least $46 million; and according to a legislative report released last year, the total cost is expected to reach at least $112 million.