A deeper look at the company hired to solve self-employed workers' unemployment claims in Arizona

Up to 150 thousand people have been denied unemployment and may be able to receive a new type of unemployment according to Arizona's Department of Economic Security (DES).

For those people, they’ve waited for weeks without any disbursements and on May 1st, that could mean real hardship as rent is due as the coronavirus pandemic keeps businesses shuttered. 

So far, despite the CARES Act, self-employed and contract workers have not been able to apply for unemployment.

DES said they hired a new contractor Friday to fix that.

FOX 10's Steve Nielsen learned more about this company and its work in other states to see what Arizonans should expect.

Geographic Solutions Inc. plans to create a new unemployment program so self-employed and contract workers can finally file for unemployment under the CARES Act.

But it won’t be ready for applications until May 12th.

RELATED: Arizona small business rehires 250, thanks to Paycheck Protection Program

Congressman Ruben Gallego said it should never have taken this long to hire an outside company.

"Three weeks means the program gets implemented, it doesn’t mean it’s going to start spitting out checks," he said.

FOX 10 learned Geographic Solutions Inc. has faced criticism in the past. State audits in Tennessee and Louisiana reveal implementation was rushed "in the face of known problems" and "caused undue hardship’ to unemployment filers.

"I am concerned obviously, I want them to succeed and I just don’t want them to switch directions because that would delay us the most," Gallego said.

In a statement DES said, "After careful review and consideration, we made the decision to utilize a contractor who has demonstrated experience establishing a Pandemic Unemployment Assistance system, and we will work through any issues that may arise when implementing a brand-new system of this size and complexity."

RELATED: 1 in 4 Americans have lost job because of coronavirus; most think they'll return to work

DES wouldn’t agree to an interview Monday, but said they did get in contact with Louisiana and Tennessee officials to hear about their experience with Geographic Solutions Inc. before hiring them.

Geographic Solutions Inc. provided FOX 10 with a statement regarding this report.

"We understand that time is of the essence and those of us at Geographic Solutions are working 24x7 to get this new program running in for Arizona in a very short time period.  We realize the need to act quickly and we are working with the state of Arizona to stand up this program and get the money to the people who need it.Geographic Solutions has a long history of successfully working with states to both find people jobs and help their residents get through tough times. To date during the pandemic we have processed unemployment claims for over 600,000 people processing nearly $1 billion dollars in benefits around the country.  We are committed to do the same for the people of Arizona."