Technology Updates

MDES continues to be in the forefront of technology.

 

Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES) assumed a leadership position in Unemployment Insurance, in 2013, when the ReEmployUSA Consortium, consisting of Mississippi, Maine and Rhode Island, with Connecticut joining in 2017, adopted MDES’ production unemployment insurance system (ACCESS MS) as the foundation for developing a common modernized system for the Consortium. Mississippi had fully deployed, in a cloud hosted environment, its new consortium unemployment insurance benefits and tax system by September 2017, and in December 2017 Maine deployed its benefits system.

Reemployusa MapThe system which was originally designed and architected between 2004 and 2013 as a single state development for Mississippi, utilized technology products appropriate for that time. The ReEmployUSA system was developed on the Mississippi single state system, but refactored for multi-tenancy starting in 2013. The Consortium decided to convert and upgrade the screen presentation software to address contemporary needs of the users and the Consortium partner states. The MDES and Consortium developments originally adopted Apache Struts Framework (v1.2.7), utilized in the web tier of the application, which allows end users of the system to interact with the system.

In 2015, the ReEmployUSA Consortium embarked on the web layer conversion project which aimed to replace Apache Struts with technology that can provide a significantly enhanced experience for end users and is capable of handling future technology changes. The new technology chosen by the Consortium is Java Server Faces and Prime Faces. The Consortium had a need for the conversion to occur quickly, efficiently, and in an automated manner, with little or no manual effort, and tasked Intueor Consulting, Inc. to leverage their proprietary conversion tool, Exodus Framework, to accomplish this conversion. The project was led by Intueor’s architect Vijay Pandey, onsite at MDES.

Reusa Rgb Ai10The ReEmployUSA team is happy to announce that this conversion project has been completed. The converted unemployment insurance benefits and tax system for Mississippi was successfully deployed into production on April 17, 2018. The converted system for Maine unemployment benefits was successfully deployed on April 24, 2018. There will be no need for a future conversion of the Maine unemployment insurance tax component which will be deployed in the updated form later this year. All future developments will include the Java Server Faces and Prime Faces modern technology. The Exodus Framework tool automatically produced about 2.6 million lines of converted code in this effort.

Immediate benefits of the conversion which are visible to system users, include significantly better and more prominent visual prompts, better presentation and visibility of error messaging, easier navigation, faster user interaction and faster display of screens. Behind the scenes, the new technology incorporates concepts such as context dependency, expression language and prime faces (a library of components that provide rich graphical user interface). As a result of this conversion, the ReEmployUSA application is more capable of accommodating future modifications in the user interface to facilitate introduction of widgets, feature-rich functions, and responsive design.

Although the ReEmployUSA system already had strong security components embedded, this conversion has delivered the added benefit of enabling the system to recognize and block cross site request forgery (CSRF) attacks . A CSRF attack is a diversion process where an external attack leads users to a site, thru an alternate and invisible route, created by criminals for purposes of stealing personally identifiable information (PII). Since this process is invisible to most users and it ultimately delivers the customer to the legitimate site, rarely does anyone suspect the data breach has occurred. This software is one additional tool to strengthen the resistance to data theft.