There’s no question the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity hasn’t been publicly forthcoming about problems with the CONNECT website.
But have DEO’s top officials failed to fully inform its own staff about problems with the $63 million site?
Yep, according to newly leaked documents that show problems with CONNECT system are much more extensive than officials have disclosed.
“The transition to CONNECT has been difficult and I know that, at times, the best you can do is ask claimants to be patient,” says a Dec. 13 email to DEO staffers from spokeswoman Monica Russell, on behalf of agency executive director Jesse Panuccio. “We are working very hard to find solutions to all identified solutions to all identified issues.”
What’s most striking about the e-mail: No concrete solutions are offered. What Russell (on behalf of Panuccio) says is most important is for the continued patience of staffers.
“Please know that I am aware of how hard everyone -- in Tallahassee, in Jacksonville, in Ft. Lauderdale -- is working, and I couldn’t be more appreciative,” the e-mail states. “Please continue to be unfailingly polite, and please continue to support each other as you encounter difficult situations.”
The email, perhaps unintentionally, acknowledges that staffers have been kept in the dark on the true extent of the problems plaguing the website. Apparently, the subject came up during Panuccio’s visit to a DEO office in Orlando earlier this month.
“One of the main concerns I heard centered around internal communications,” stated the Dec. 13 email. “You need to hear more about updates to the system more often so that you can communicate with claimants more effectively. We are going to fix that…We are committed to improving our communications with you by delivering accurate information in a timely manner.”
While sounding like a no-brainer management practice to most, it comes two months after the the launch of the website and is actually at odds with a directive two months ago.