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Labor Department Wins Innovation Award for Internet WebBenefits System

For immediate release
August 28, 2007

WETHERSFIELD, The Connecticut Department of Labor has earned a Silver Innovation prize for a system that allows customers to file for unemployment benefits via the Internet. The distinction, from the Connecticut Quality Improvement Award Partnership, Inc., is awarded to organizations that excel in managing quality improvement for business success and growth.

“This Internet claims filing system has revolutionized the way our agency handles a large part of its business and has significantly increased the efficiency of the state’s unemployment benefits system,” said State Labor Commissioner Patricia H. Mayfield.

With a total of 50,000 citizens in Connecticut filing a claim for unemployment benefits weekly, the agency looked for innovative solutions to ensure an even more efficient system for filing claims, serving customers, and freeing up staff to help people find new jobs,” Mayfield noted.

“While our telephone voice response system provided an efficient means for citizens to file weekly claims for benefits,” Mayfield said, “at certain times of the year the number of claims will increase as a result of weather-related construction shutdowns, school vacations or post-holiday slowdowns in the retail industry. In the past, when the volume of claims rose, customers experienced busy signals or long wait times in order to access the menu of services.”

The answer was a browser-based, Internet claims system, designed with simple text instructions, pop-up windows, and easily navigable screens, or pages, with options for inputting data. The system also features multiple levels of security to protect customer data, and it is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as the State of Connecticut Universal Web Site Accessibility Policy.

“Thanks to our new electronic filing system called ‘WebBenefits,’ approximately 30 percent of all weekly claims are now being filed via the Internet,” Mayfield points out. “Telephone traffic to our voice response system has been reduced, and as a result, the number of busy signals have diminished.”   

According to Mayfield, wait times to access the agency’s telephone menu of services has been reduced by 25 percent and Internet filers often can complete a claim filing transaction in less than one minute. In contrast, the average telephone call to file a claim takes an average of six minutes.

“The Connecticut Department of Labor is committed to providing swift and efficient access to our wide array of workforce services to address the needs of the unemployed,” Mayfield noted. “The WebBenefits filing system allows our agency to take the mission one step further.

“While our successful telephone voice response system virtually eliminated the long lines of customers waiting to file their claims in person at ‘the unemployment office’, we recognized that the Web’s place in the arena of modern service delivery methods could further enhance our efficiency and the service we provide to the public. We can now dedicate more time helping customers with their ‘employment’ needs rather than their ‘unemployment’ needs.”

This is the sixth Connecticut Quality Improvement Award that has been awarded to the Labor Department for innovations in the workplace. 

The Connecticut Quality Improvement Award Partnership is a not-for profit organization that annually recognizes organizations for bringing quality improvement to the workplace. Founded in 1987, the organization is comprised of a group of business leaders, educators, health care executives and government officials concerned with improving the economic vitality of Connecticut.

The Silver Innovation Prize will be presented to the Connecticut Department of Labor during the Partnership’s 20th anniversary conference on quality and innovation, to be held Oct. 19 at the Water’s Edge Resort in Westbrook.

Media Contact: Nancy Steffens  (860) 263-6535

200 Folly Brook Boulevard, Wethersfield, CT 06109 / Phone: 860-263-6000

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