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As thousands still wait, analysis identifies DETR issues and provides solutions

Aged system from the early 2000s
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Posted at 8:40 PM, Jan 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-28 09:30:08-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — As thousands still struggle to get their unemployment benefits in Nevada, an overhaul could be coming to the state's Department of Employment, Training & Rehabilitation following an independent analysis that’s identified some major issues.

Simone Spinello, a former Clark County School District employee, says she’s given up trying to get anyone on the phone from DETR to figure out where her unemployment benefits are.

“I’m one of those people that fell through the cracks,” says Spinello. “I’m basically living off of my savings.”

Spinello is facing the harsh reality that many others are facing in Nevada due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, DETR is confident that the 5% state-wide backlog of unemployment claims remaining is being handled.

“Number one priority is finishing up getting through the backlog which we are making great progress on,” Elisa Cafferata, DETR director.

RELATED: Gov. Sisolak appoints Elisa Cafferata as Director of Department of Employment

In a presentation to the Legislative Council Bureau on Tuesday, Cafferata outlined the department’s future, and what went wrong in the past.

An independent analysis found that a dependency on costly third-party products led to constant adjustments to the program.

Also, an aged system from the early 2000s and complex software was found, which meant DETR had to create hundreds of solutions.

“It has some vintage code in it, so there’s definitely some challenges and efficiencies that we need to make,” says Cafferata.

The independent study indicates it would cost DETR roughly $3-5 million each year to fix the problem.

“This is not in the budget so the immediate step will be fleshing out this analysis,” said Cafferata.

TIMELINE: Nevada Dept. of Employment and handling of pandemic unemployment claims

Gov. Steve Sisolak's 2022-2023 budget includes modernizing the unemployment system.

After the State of the State address earlier this month, Gov. Sisolak told 13 Action News that addressing the unemployment system is key, but folks need to get back to work.

“If I can get them working I don't have to worry about paying unemployment benefits, they'll be happier and so will I,” said Gov Sisolak.

DETR says since the beginning of the pandemic they’ve paid on average about 300,000 Nevadans weekly for unemployment.

RELATED: DETR, Job Connect websites to be offline Thursday night