Vendor Outage Affects State Unemployment, Job-Seeking Sites
Third-party provider Geographic Solutions reportedly offlined systems after an attempted malware attack. Some states report that unemployment claims and/or job search sites are currently unavailable.
GSI “shut down their servers, out of an abundance of caution, after a cyber attack on their East Coast server,” a Nevada spokesperson told Government Technology. GSI runs Nevada’s EmployNV site.
GSI "discovered an attempted malware attack,” the Louisiana Workforce Commission stated in a press release.
An online announcement from the North Carolina Department of Commerce suggests a timeline, explaining that the state’s jobs portal – which is built and managed by GSI - was down due to a Sunday June 26 cyber incident.
The disruption could affect a wide swathe of states.
“The resulting outage from the attack is also impacting as many as 40 other states and Washington, D.C.,” the Louisiana Workforce Commission states.
In a few states, the disruption may cause interruptions and delays for residents who need unemployment aid.
Tennessee reports that roughly 12,000 residents rely on unemployment benefits each week, but that the GSI outage prevents the state from accessing the data needed to keep up these payments. Tennessee said in a June 28 statement that it will resume disbursing benefits funds “as soon as possible” and provide claimants with a lump sum covering any weeks during which payments were missed.
Some states have advertised alternative methods. Louisiana said that its nearly 11,000 existing unemployment benefits claimants can use an automated phone system to file their weekly requests while the online system is down.
New applicants may need to wait until the systems are restored before they can file new claims, however.
Estimates vary about when the problems will be fixed. As of June 28, Tennessee said there currently “is no timeline” for when systems are expected to be back online, while Louisiana on June 29 said it expected services to resume within 72 hours.
Many states require unemployment applicants to be actively seeking work, and the GSI outage has disrupted the job search sites they offer to help with this.
New Hampshire Employment Security Deputy Commissioner Richard Lavers told GovTech that the GSI outage downed the state’s Job Match System, and Iowa Public Information Officer Jesse Dougherty said it offlined the IowaWORKs.gov site. Both states said their unemployment systems remain unaffected, however.
States have responded with policy adjustments and by directing residents to different resources.
Texas, for example, reacted to the outage of its GSI-provided job seeking site by creating a new one. Iowa, in turn, is currently directing claimants to other job search resources like the National Labor Exchange and to in-person help on-site at its offices, per Dougherty.
California is temporarily waiving the requirement that recipients register with the state job searching site — which is currently unavailable — and Dougherty said Iowans seeking insurance benefits will not have to record efforts to get re-employed until its own job and work search site returns. South Carolina saw its job search portal downed as well, but in press releases advised residents to seek work using other websites and record these activities, in case its Department of Employment and Workforce audits them about these efforts.
Wyoming’s WyomingAtWork.com site was also downed by the GSI incident and an exact timeline to recovery remains elusive, said Ty Stockton, the state Department of Workforce Services' chief deputy administrator of Policy, Planning and Communications. But on the morning of July 1, GSI told the state that it expected the site to “up and running by early next week, barring any unexpected delays," Stockton told GovTech.
Several states posted about interruptions to their workforce sites that they said were due to a vendor’s outage, without specifying which vendor was involved.
In one case, at least, GSI is not the only firm experiencing troubles.
The vendor that Arizona uses for printing and mailing communications is experiencing a nationwide system outage, which in turn is impacting most of the “notices, forms and paper checks” from the state Department of Economic Security (DES), according to the department.
The issue is unrelated to GSI, press secretary Tasya Peterson told GovTech, and DES states on its website that its services “are not impacted by this incident and remain accessible to the public.”
Editor's note: This story is being updated and/or corrected as more information becomes available.