Labor Reaches Another Milestone in Upgrading its Computer System

Earlier today the Idaho Department of Labor shifted more of its unemployment insurance tax processing data from an aging mainframe computer to a more efficient and less expensive Web-based system.

This is the second release in the department’s transition to the new computer system called iUS. The first module rolled out in April dealt with unemployment insurance employer tax accounts, significantly increasing the system’s functionality.

With Wednesday’s release, the department moved nearly all its tax inquiry screens off its mainframe computer. The shift cuts the number of screens tax staff work with in half; improves the search, filter and sorting capabilities; enhances screen layout for better readability; provides access to more historical data and upgrades the administrative functions used in managing employer accounts.

The Idaho Department of Labor began redesigning its computer system over two years ago, prompted by the fact that its legacy system dates back to the late 1970s and has been stretched to its limits by numerous modifications to accommodate changes in the unemployment insurance program over the past three decades. The groundwork for the new system was laid during Idaho’s participation with Arizona, Wyoming and North Dakota in initial design work on new computer programs all states could adopt for their unemployment insurance programs. This four-state project was funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Chief Deputy Director John McAllister said the staff are working on the new system with a sense of urgency because maintaining the old legacy system has become increasingly expensive and finding technicians with those skills has proven to be very difficult.

But more importantly, McAllister said, “the risk of our legacy system failing and causing major disruptions in unemployment insurance services increases with every passing day.”

The transition to the Web-based system is expected to be complete by late 2014. The new system will accommodate all future modifications needed to keep up with changes in the unemployment insurance program.