1970s computer system cause of ESC overpayment?

RALEIGH In September, the agency announced it made $28 million in overpayments to the unemployed.

The millions in overpaid unemployment benefits left thousands of jobless North Carolinians worried and frustrated.

"It's their fault that it happened and I really don't see how it happened," Raleigh resident James Leach said.

Letters asking recipients to pay it all back created confusion, partly because the warning letters were hard to understand filled with technical jargon and unexplained acronyms.

Governor Bev Perdue laster ordered the Employment Security Commission to stop taking money out of people's unemployment checks to recoup overpayments that came from an administrative error.

Initial findings in a recent review of the ESC suggests the state agency's 1970s mainframe computer that keeps track of and issues unemployment benefits may be to blame.

The report stated it "... has a limited number of programmers that can operate the old technology."

Adding to the antiquated system the report claims, "ESC has a lack of formal processes and procedures related to IT operations."

A team of IT experts have interviewed both current and former ESC managers to figure out how to prevent the costly computer error from happening again.

North Carolina is one of four states trying to develop a new unemployment insurance system.

A private consultant will make recommendations next summer.

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