Maryland’s Labor Secretary has issued a statement about the failed launch of the new BEACON unemployment website that was supposed to give Maryland residents a one-stop place to file unemployment. The launch did not go as planned.
The site crashed immediately upon launching last Friday and Governor Hogan said he was very disappointed. Eventually the site was brought back up; only to go down again on Sunday. They brought the site back up on Sunday evening with reduced capacity. Now it seems that the problems may continue and the Department of Labor has issued the following statement:
The Maryland Department of Labor’s Division of Unemployment Insurance sincerely apologizes for the difficulties surrounding applications for unemployment insurance benefits. The launch of the new online BEACON One-Stop application was intended to offer Marylanders the opportunity to quickly and easily file all types of claims and weekly certifications entirely online 24/7. The launch of the site has clearly fallen short.
We share your frustration, and are committed to ensuring the site is fully functional and operating without capacity delays as quickly as possible. We understand the dire financial situation that many of our Maryland families, friends and neighbors are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. We do not take this responsibility lightly.
In order to implement the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) programs in a timely manner, we recently partnered with Sagitec, an outside benefits administration program vendor. If we had attempted to program our older system to accept applications for the CARES Act, it would have taken weeks, if not months. This was not an option. We want to make sure that all eligible Marylanders receive the benefits they need and deserve as soon as possible.
We were hopeful that our partnership with the vendor would provide rapid solutions. Instead, it has caused a series of challenges for applicants. The vendor’s platform could not sustain the volume of visitors to the site. This was not acceptable, and we are taking immediate actions to fix these problems.
As a result, we will be taking the application down nightly between the hours of 1:00 a.m. – 3:00 a.m. until the problem is fixed to perform maintenance and resolve any ongoing technical issues. While the website will be unavailable to customers during those early morning hours, this time was selected to impact the fewest number of claimants possible.
In order to prevent the overload of the system that users have experienced, we have introduced a virtual waiting line. By entering this system, you will be able to see how many individuals are waiting for site access, receive an estimated wait time that is constantly updated, and sign-up to receive an email when the system is ready for you to access the platform. This will provide more certainty about when you will receive assistance, but, more importantly, it will help ensure the capacity problems the platform experienced in the past do not reoccur.
We anticipate that, despite the waiting time, the process of filing your claim and certifications will proceed more smoothly because of the limitation on the number of people able to file at a given time.
We are also implementing a new gating system to increase the number of customers who are able to complete their filings with minimal hassle and frustration:
On Sundays and Mondays, ONLY our customers who are filing weekly claim certifications will be able to file, in order to ensure that Marylanders can receive their payments timely and when needed. If you are unable to file your weekly claim certification on Sunday or Monday, you are not restricted from filing it on any other day.
On Tuesdays through Saturdays, our customers can file new claims as well as complete all other activities.
The Department of Labor is working around the clock to improve this situation, and we will keep you updated on a regular basis, through e-mail and on Facebook and Twitter. During these trying times, you deserve openness, clarity, and transparency from us, and we will do better.
Tiffany P. Robinson