NASHVILLE, Tenn. — People trying to file or update claims for unemployment benefits were not able to log into a crucial state website for at least a few days after a state vendor took it offline for concerning activity on its network.
But on July 4, state leaders announced that it was resuming operations.
The website, Jobs4TN.gov, is a centralized source of workforce resources for people across the state. Among many of its uses, the website connects people searching for a job with employers.
The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development said Geographic Solutions, Inc., the company that operates the website, intentionally took the website offline to investigate an issue it discovered on its network. The vendor notified the state on June 25 about a service interruption, according to a release from the department.
Paul Toomey, the president of GSI, said the company noticed unusual activity on its network, so it took the Jobs4TN system offline to stop the activity. He said third-party specialists were investigating the incident, saying it did not appear any personal data was accessed or removed at the moment.
"That investigation is still ongoing, and we are taking steps to help prevent this from happening again. Our current focus is working around the clock to bring Jobs4TN back online," he said.
They said Monday they completed the testing phase of the website and decided that the system was operational and ready to resume service. The restoration was completed on Sunday, July 3. People who need to file a new claim for unemployment benefits can now log in and submit the paperwork.
Even though they could not apply between June 25 and July 2, they will be able to set the claim's effective date if they meet the eligibility requirements. They will need to finish the filing process by July 8, 5:30 eastern time and once it is submitted, applicants will get an email with instructions on how to start their weekly certifications.
Leaders noted that it could several weeks for staff to review applications for unemployment benefits.
Anyone who could not complete weekly certifications will need to complete them for this week and the week before. Officials said the system will prompt them to complete the process for both weeks.
They also said that since July 4 is a federal holiday, payments for unemployment benefits will be delayed by a day.
Around 36 other states also experienced issues as a result of issues with the company's equipment, according to a release. The company met with the department and state IT officials to speak about the issues.
The department said that Geographic Solutions, Inc. was working 24 hours a day on fixing the website. Until it is fixed, the department said it cannot access data for claimants to make weekly unemployment benefit payments.
Around 12,000 Tennesseans receive unemployment benefits through the program, according to a release.
"TDLWD leadership understands the importance of the programs accessed through the system and their impact on Tennessee’s workforce," the department said in a release. "Job seekers can still take advantage of services at one of the 80 American Job Centers across the state."
Once the website is fixed, people can complete certifications for missed weeks and will receive benefits in a lump sum, the department said.
However, anyone who needs to file a new unemployment claim will need to wait for more instructions on how to apply once the website is fixed, the department said.