If you planned to build your dream home and ended up with a bigger, better, house than you expected, and you received it on time and under budget, you would be pretty happy, right? That’s how the judges at the 2011 Best of California contest felt about the Employment Development Department’s (EDD) Automated Collection Enhancement System (ACES) Project, which received an award for the Best Application Serving an Agency’s Business Needs. ACES is an integrated system that automates the collection and accounting of payroll taxes while replacing old, outdated systems.

ACES provides a number of benefits to California’s 1.2 million employers and to the state. Employers benefit from ACES through expanded e-services, which allow them to manage their own payroll tax accounts as easily as they manage their online banking. This includes filing forms on-line, paying, and viewing account status 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The project has streamlined return and payment processing, revenue accounting, refunds, offsets, and compliance processing while improving the collection of revenue.

It was initially intended to replace a collection system but ended up replacing 20 systems, including a 24 year-old COBOL-based legacy system. Replacing these systems has streamlined EDD’s processes while making it easier and less costly to maintain the system.

The system has already enhanced revenue collection of $ 29.6 million during Phase II of the project, while helping EDD staff to perform their jobs more effectively. To accomplish all of this, ACES was the first major project to use a new procurement approach provided by SB 954. Using this new approach, EDD was able to get a complete tax system for the cost of the single collection system they initially planned to replace.

This week, the Employment Development Department announced a new debit card program for those receiving Disability Insurance (DI) and Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits. Replacing checks, the electronic card will improve efficiencies, security and cut the wait time for recipients to access their benefits. Approximately 400,000 customers will be transitioned to the new cards by March.

EDD estimates the new program will initially save about $4 million a year in paper and check processing costs once the Unemployment Insurance (UI) program is also transitioned to the new EDD Debit Cards. EDD plans to start phasing in cards for approximately 1.3 million unemployment claimants in June.

Savings are expected to increase significantly once the unemployment Continued Claim Form also goes fully paperless with system modifications expected to be completed next year.

Read EDD’s press release here.

According to the Employment Development Department (EDD), California is on track this year to surpass the record $20.2 billion in total unemployment benefits paid to unemployed workers in 2009. Compared to $5 billion in normal, pre-recession years, this is an unprecedented jump, obviously a sign of the bleak economic times and 12 percent unemployment rate.  Among other things, EDD has responded to the situation by ramping up its technology program to enhance access to their Unemployment Insurance (UI) services.

Recently announced, the department is launching several technology projects that will further improve the process of filing for UI and collecting benefits for California’s unemployed.   Here is a list:

  • Technology that will allow customers to submit their bi-weekly claim forms online or to certify by telephone instead of the lengthier mail-in process.
  • New electronic benefit payments through a debit card or automatic deposit that will get benefits in the hands of customers faster.
  • Enhanced version of the online UI application that will be available for all customers, including those who’ve worked in federal government and military positions.
  • Call center upgrades that will improve EDD’s call routing capability to all UI centers during peak periods to improve access to telephone services.
  • Initial work on overhauling major sections of older processing systems so EDD can respond quickly to rapid changes in the UI program, like record-setting federal extensions of benefits.
  • For more information, check out the What’s New feature on EDD’s website at www.edd.ca.gov.