South Carolina is in the process of forming a shared unemployment benefit systems with neighboring states Georgia and North Carolina, officials recently announced.

The unemployment insurance system, dubbed Southern Consortium Unemployment Insurance Benefits Initiative, is a nearly $60 million project that combines the systems of S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce, N.C. Division of Employment Security and Georgia Department of Labor.

The project tapped Capgemini Government Solutions LLC, a subsidiary of Paris-based Capgemini Group, to design both technical and business processes for the system.

The tri-state system is scheduled to be unveiled in 2016, removing an aging system currently used in South Carolina, according to Adrienne R. Fairwell, spokeswoman for S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce.

"Our IT is more than 30 years old and it's very expensive for one state to do something like this alone," she said.

South Carolina is spending $12.6 million over three years for the tri-state project, Fairwell said.

She added that South Carolina's current unemployment benefit system requires extensive "recoding" each time there are changes, such as when the federal government extended unemployment benefits.

"Basically, right now an individual has to reprogram code to make these legislative changes," she said.

Fairwell added that the system upgrade is for the back-end users, better known as office staff. That should mean little to no difference for state residents applying for and managing unemployment benefits, she added.

Capgemini touts its system as state-of-the-art, with tools for "improved assessment of eligibility for more accurate payment of unemployment insurance," according to a written statement.

"Through this multi-state consortia initiative, we can collectively modernize our aging unemployment benefits systems to improve services for our citizens," said Cheryl M. Stanton, Executive Director, South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce. "This modernization program will help us keep pace with the changing nature of each state's labor force, and will allow for greater unemployment insurance and IT flexibility and will save money in the long run."

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