Concerns about cybersecurity have led the state of Kentucky to extend its search for a company to modernize its pandemic-stressed unemployment insurance system, Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration said Wednesday.
The need for additional safeguards against hackers means the state will go through a rebidding process, said Jill Midkiff, a spokeswoman for the state Finance and Administration Cabinet.
In doing so, the state will request enhanced security measures to protect the personal and financial information of jobless claimants, she said.
The state is seeking a contract partner to overhaul its outdated technology for processing jobless claims. That search began about 16 months ago, and lawmakers were told last month that the state was in the “latter stages” of selecting a company to revamp the claims-processing system.
But the need to provide enhanced cybersecurity forced the state to cancel the prior solicitation and rebid the contract, Midkiff said Wednesday.
“The procurement was out for bid when Kentucky and most other states were targeted by one of the most sophisticated cyberattacks on our unemployment insurance system in history, which meant that significant additional elements needed to be added to ensure people’s bank accounts, and other information, could not be accessed,” Midkiff said in an email.
For the past year, Republicans have criticized the Democratic governor for the unemployment system’s problems. Beshear has pointed to budget and staffing cuts that hobbled the system well before he took office just months before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
State lawmakers continue to hear complaints from constituents about the unemployment insurance system, Senate President Pro Tem David Givens, a Republican, said Wednesday.
“If you poll legislators, you’re going to see of all the issues that continue to create the most concern for citizens, call after call after call that we get is still related to UI,” he said in a phone interview.
And now, the contract rebidding — coming weeks after lawmakers were told the state was closing in on selecting a contractor — is another sign that Beshear’s administration can’t break its “pattern of failure” related to unemployment insurance, Givens said.