Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers plans to use Federal funding to overhaul the state’s decades-old and technologically outdated unemployment insurance system.

The state’s Department of Workforce Development (DWD) released a request for proposals (RFP) seeking bids from contractors to carry out the $80 million overhaul. Gov. Evers’ pledge to use Federal funding comes after Republicans in the state legislature stripped funding for the overhaul out of Gov. Evers’ budget proposal.

In the RFP, DWD said it is seeking a contractor who can provide a “technical strategy” for modernizing the unemployment insurance (UI) information technology system, and then deliver a new system that aligns with the technical strategy.

Due to the size and complexity of the UI system, DWD said modernizing may include a variety of solutions, including commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) systems and customized components, that will “provide DWD the flexibility and adaptability it needs to support a dynamic policy environment.” As part of adapting to the dynamic policy environment, the new UI system will need to be responsive to a new state or Federal law, guidance, or policy that modifies, creates, or terminates benefits programs, changes charging to employers, or changes verification of participants or other requirements.

In terms of its modernization approach, DWD said the effort will include several intersecting projects that may occur separately or at times overlap. With that in mind, DWD said the contractor will need to be flexible and agile in its modernization approach. DWD’s overall goal is to use a modular approach so its system can work in an ever-changing environment. Throughout this modernization project, DWD will be prepared to quickly implement program and policy changes at any time, while also maintaining its existing program applications without interruption or delay.

The contractor will also be tasked with migrating DWD off its existing system “without compromising its current functionality to end users,” by using an encasement approach. DWD said it is using an encasement approach to minimize risk to production systems while gradually migrating to a modernized, easier to maintain system that is more adaptive to UI program needs. As part of this strategy, an encasement Application Programming Interface (API) will serve as a façade to hide the complexity of the existing database, provide services in support of existing and novel UI systems, and allow for transition between separate functional implementations. DWD will be able to alter functionalities behind the API as needs and technology evolve. DWD explained that the API can mitigate risks during the transition by comparing results between the existing and new systems.

DWD said the initial period of performance for the contract is 12 months. There will also be three optional renewals of 12 months, for a total period of performance of 48 months.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs