Duncan Suzuki

Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

VEC call system clogged

An “unprecedented” number of unemployment claims received over the past few weeks has clogged the Virginia Employment Commission’s Voice Response System (VRS) and, at times, made it difficult for clients to file for their benefits.
Sam Lupica, chief operating officer for the VEC, said the agency recently has had to upgrade the VRS to enable it to handle more calls as a result of the explosion of unemployment claims.
The VRS is an automated telephone system that allows unemployed workers to file for benefits. Lupica explained that clients file an initial claim for unemployment, then have to report information on a weekly basis in order to extend their benefits and receive a check.
“The volume of calls we’ve received (to the VRS) over the past few weeks has been unprecedented since the VRS was installed in 1995,” Lupica said. “It’s the most calls we’ve received since that time.”
He noted that the system underwent an upgrade in 2005 and just recently had its call capacity tripled as a result of the recent system backups.
“The problem (clients were experiencing) was related to the phone system and the (VRS) database,” he said. “(The system) was basically choking from the sheer volume of calls” being received.
For example, he noted that the system had received 10,300 calls as of 10 a.m. Monday – and that only included calls that had been made on Monday’s date.
Between midnight Jan. 1 and 7:30 a.m. Monday, the VRS received 85,000 calls.
Although the VEC hasn’t kept a tally of the daily call volume in the past, he said he feels sure the number of calls have about doubled.
According to VEC figures for initial claims filed, Lupica said 13,929 were filed during the week of Dec. 20, 2008, compared to 7,329 that were filed for the equivalent week (Dec. 22) in 2007.
“Last Tuesday (Dec. 30), we processed $15.9 million in unemployment insurance payments” for that day alone, he said. Payments are generally made daily, however, he pointed out that the amount paid out tends to be higher early in the week because most people file information with the VRS during the peak times of Sunday through Tuesday.
Therefore, as the week progresses, the payout tends to be lower.
The fact most clients file their information early in the week is one reason the system gets bogged down.
Lupica said the VEC is encouraging clients to use the online filing system when possible, or call the VRS during non-peak times.
“The VRS is available 24 hours a day. It’s there, it just gets overwhelmed. If (VEC clients) have trouble getting through (to the line) they should try the late evenings or early morning hours” when fewer people are calling, he said. “The beginning of the week and mid-day are very busy times.”
Although a VEC client recently reported to The Southwest Times that he had been unable to access the VRS database by phone or online, Lupica said he has been assured the website has the capacity to handle the increased volume of traffic. He said he has not received any complaints of that system not working, but he will check again to make sure it is operating correctly.

VEC call system clogged

An “unprecedented” number of unemployment claims received over the past few weeks has clogged the Virginia Employment Commission’s Voice Response System (VRS) and, at times, made it difficult for clients to file for their benefits.
Sam Lupica, chief operating officer for the VEC, said the agency recently has had to upgrade the VRS to enable it to handle more calls as a result of the explosion of unemployment claims.
The VRS is an automated telephone system that allows unemployed workers to file for benefits. Lupica explained that clients file an initial claim for unemployment, then have to report information on a weekly basis in order to extend their benefits and receive a check.
“The volume of calls we’ve received (to the VRS) over the past few weeks has been unprecedented since the VRS was installed in 1995,” Lupica said. “It’s the most calls we’ve received since that time.”
He noted that the system underwent an upgrade in 2005 and just recently had its call capacity tripled as a result of the recent system backups.
“The problem (clients were experiencing) was related to the phone system and the (VRS) database,” he said. “(The system) was basically choking from the sheer volume of calls” being received.
For example, he noted that the system had received 10,300 calls as of 10 a.m. Monday – and that only included calls that had been made on Monday’s date.
Between midnight Jan. 1 and 7:30 a.m. Monday, the VRS received 85,000 calls.
Although the VEC hasn’t kept a tally of the daily call volume in the past, he said he feels sure the number of calls have about doubled.
According to VEC figures for initial claims filed, Lupica said 13,929 were filed during the week of Dec. 20, 2008, compared to 7,329 that were filed for the equivalent week (Dec. 22) in 2007.
“Last Tuesday (Dec. 30), we processed $15.9 million in unemployment insurance payments” for that day alone, he said. Payments are generally made daily, however, he pointed out that the amount paid out tends to be higher early in the week because most people file information with the VRS during the peak times of Sunday through Tuesday.
Therefore, as the week progresses, the payout tends to be lower.
The fact most clients file their information early in the week is one reason the system gets bogged down.
Lupica said the VEC is encouraging clients to use the online filing system when possible, or call the VRS during non-peak times.
“The VRS is available 24 hours a day. It’s there, it just gets overwhelmed. If (VEC clients) have trouble getting through (to the line) they should try the late evenings or early morning hours” when fewer people are calling, he said. “The beginning of the week and mid-day are very busy times.”
Although a VEC client recently reported to The Southwest Times that he had been unable to access the VRS database by phone or online, Lupica said he has been assured the website has the capacity to handle the increased volume of traffic. He said he has not received any complaints of that system not working, but he will check again to make sure it is operating correctly.