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CRT-251 Sales Cloud Consultant resources |

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Exam Code: CRT-251 Sales Cloud Consultant resources November 2023 by team

CRT-251 Sales Cloud Consultant

The CRT-251 exam, also known as the Sales Cloud Consultant certification exam, is offered by Salesforce. It is designed to validate the knowledge and skills of professionals working as sales consultants in implementing Sales Cloud solutions. Here is an overview of the exam details, course outline, exam objectives, and exam syllabus for the CRT-251 exam:

Exam Details:
- Number of Questions: The CRT-251 exam typically consists of multiple-choice and multiple-select questions. The exact number of questions may vary, but it is typically around 60.

- Time: Candidates are usually given a specific time limit to complete the CRT-251 exam. The allotted time is typically around 105 minutes.

Course Outline:
The CRT-251 exam covers a range of syllabus related to Sales Cloud implementation and configuration. The course outline typically includes the following key areas:

1. Sales Cloud Solution Design:
- Gathering and analyzing business requirements for sales processes.
- Designing and configuring Sales Cloud features and functionalities to meet specific business needs.
- Collaborating with stakeholders to define key performance indicators and metrics.

2. Sales Cloud Implementation:
- Configuring and customizing Sales Cloud objects, fields, and page layouts.
- Defining and managing sales processes, including lead management, opportunity management, and forecasting.
- Setting up and configuring sales productivity tools, such as email integration, activity management, and territory management.

3. Sales Cloud Analytics and Reporting:
- Creating and customizing reports and dashboards to provide actionable insights for sales teams and management.
- Implementing sales performance tracking and measurement.
- Analyzing sales data to identify trends, opportunities, and areas for improvement.

4. Sales Cloud Integration:
- Integrating Sales Cloud with other Salesforce products, such as Marketing Cloud or Service Cloud.
- Configuring data integration and synchronization with external systems.
- Implementing data security and access controls for sales data.

Exam Objectives:
The objectives of the CRT-251 exam are as follows:
- Assessing candidates' understanding of Sales Cloud concepts, features, and capabilities.
- Evaluating candidates' ability to design and implement Sales Cloud solutions based on business requirements.
- Validating candidates' proficiency in configuring and customizing Sales Cloud features and functionalities.

Exam Syllabus:
The CRT-251 exam syllabus covers various syllabus related to Sales Cloud implementation and configuration. The specific syllabus may include:

1. Sales Cloud Solution Design:
- Gathering and documenting business requirements.
- Designing Sales Cloud solutions based on business needs.
- Collaborating with stakeholders to define success criteria.

2. Sales Cloud Implementation:
- Configuring and customizing Sales Cloud objects, fields, and page layouts.
- Implementing lead management, opportunity management, and forecasting.
- Setting up and configuring sales productivity tools.

3. Sales Cloud Analytics and Reporting:
- Creating and customizing reports and dashboards.
- Implementing sales performance tracking and measurement.
- Analyzing sales data for insights and decision-making.

4. Sales Cloud Integration:
- Integrating Sales Cloud with other Salesforce products and external systems.
- Configuring data integration and synchronization.
- Implementing data security and access controls.

The CRT-251 certification demonstrates proficiency in implementing Sales Cloud solutions and helping organizations optimize their sales processes using Salesforce technology. It is important for candidates to refer to the official Salesforce website or exam guide for the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding the CRT-251 exam, including the number of questions, time limits, and exam content.
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Sales Cloud Consultant
Question: 57
What is the recommended approach to relate a Person Account to another Account?
A. Add the Person Account to the Contact Roles.
B. Add the Person Account to the Account owner's default team.
C. Add the Person Account to the Partners Related List.
D. Add the Person Account to the Account Team.
Answer: C
Question: 58
Universal Containers needs to show a dashboard with forecast by product family with quotas. Which solution
should a consultant recommend?
A. Build a joined report with closed opportunities, forecasting items, and quotas.
B. Customize quotas with product report, and add necessary fields.
C. Build a custom report type with forecasting quotas and forecasting items.
D. Create an analytic snapshot to capture the opportunity forecast.
Answer: D
Question: 59
Sales management at Universal Containers wants product managers to become more involved with sales deals that
are being delayed in the negotiation stage of the sales process. Product managers need to understand the details of
specific sales deals, and address product capability and roadmap questions with customers. Which two solutions
should a consultant recommend to help product managers engage in sales deals? (Choose two.)
A. Create a Chatter group to share product information with the sales team, product managers, and customers.
B. Use Process Builder to create a chatter post.
C. Use an assignment to notify product managers when opportunities are updated.
D. Add the opportunity team, product managers, and customers to libraries containing files relevant to sales deals.
Answer: A,B
Question: 60
Universal Containers wants to implement a website for a new product launch. The site should be publicly available,
allow visitors to submit requests for information, and be managed by the non-technical marketing team. Which
solution should the consultant recommend?
A. Lightning Platform
B. Salesforce Mobile Sites
C. Lightning Components
D. Customer Community
Answer: D
Question: 61
The sales management team of Universal Containers has noticed that opportunities are taking longer to close.
Historically, it has taken 30 days for a new opportunity to be moved to closed/won. Recently, this time period has
increased to 45 days. Which two reporting tools can the sales management team leverage to help determine the
cause? (Choose two.)
A. Report on campaign return on investment (ROI)
B. Report on the discount approval time for quotes
C. Dashboard of month-over-month trend of lead conversions
D. Dashboard of opportunity stage duration
Answer: B,D
Question: 62
Universal Containers is preparing for the launch of its new Sales Cloud implementation to a global user base. With
previous sales automation applications, the company had slow adoption of the new solution. Which three Sales
Cloud deployment factors should be considered to help ensure adoption? (Choose three.)
A. Type of training delivered
B. Sales rep quota targets
C. Management communications
D. Maintenance release schedule
E. Training in local language
Answer: A,C,E
Question: 63
Universal Containers uses Products in Salesforce and has a private security model. The product management
employees do NOT have access to all opportunities but wants to track the performance of a new product after it is
launched. What should a consultant recommend to allow the product management employees to track the
performance of the product?
A. Create a trigger to add the product management team to the sales team of relevant opportunities.
B. Create a criteria-based sharing rule to add the product management team to relevant opportunities.
C. Create a trigger to set the product manager as owner for opportunities on the new product.
D. Create a new product and add it to the price book with the product manager as an owner.
Answer: B
Question: 64
Universal Containers does NOT have a direct sales team; its channel partners are responsible for selling and
servicing products. Over the past quarter, these has been an increased volume of leads. However, the Vice
President of Channels has been receiving many complaints from partners on the poor quality of the leads and has
noticed a significant drop in the lead conversion rate. What should a consultant recommend to Strengthen partner
satisfaction with the leads being shared?
A. Assign all leads to the partner channel manager to validate the lead data and manually assign to partners.
B. Create multiple validation rules to ensure that all fields on the lead record are populated with data.
C. Create a custom lead score field to assess lead quality and assign the leads that exceed this score to partners.
D. Use the lead score on the Find Duplicates button and assign the leads with a score in the high category.
Answer: C
Question: 65
Universal Containers has configured a private sharing model with opportunity team selling enabled. The company
allows its sales representatives to add sales team members to their opportunities when necessary. As a result, each
sales representative has opportunities they directly manage and opportunities on which they collaborate with other
sales representatives. Which data set filter report would allow the sales representatives to see all opportunities they
are involved with?
A. My team-selling and my opportunities
B. My team-selling shared opportunities
C. My team's opportunities
D. My collaborative opportunities
Answer: A
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Salesforce Consultant resources - BingNews Search results Salesforce Consultant resources - BingNews Rimini Street Expands its Salesforce Solutions to Include Rimini Consult™ for Salesforce® No result found, try new keyword!“Rimini Consult’s full suite of Salesforce consulting services is designed ... services for Salesforce help free up valuable IT resources and flexes as business grows. The unique “unlimited ... Tue, 17 Oct 2023 01:39:00 -0500 What happens when the boss invites you to bible study? No result found, try new keyword!More employees are sharing their religious identities at work and requesting the same corporate recognition and support given to other identity groups. Tue, 14 Nov 2023 23:00:00 -0600 Rimini Street Announces Support, Managed and Consulting Services for Salesforce® ClickSoftware to Extend Life and Value of Client Deployments Beyond December 31, 2023 End-of ... No result found, try new keyword!Rimini Street Announces Support, Managed and Consulting Services for Salesforce® ClickSoftware to Extend Life and Value of Client Deployments Beyond December 31, 2023 End-of-Life Deadline ... Wed, 18 Oct 2023 03:09:00 -0500 Peloton leverages Conga solutions to boost efficiencies and reduce risk

Conga, a leader in revenue lifecycle management solutions, announced that Peloton Consulting Group (Peloton), a global provider of digital transformation services, has successfully deployed Conga's Conga Contract Lifecycle Management solution.

The solution automates and centralizes contract review and execution, speeds up previously inefficient processes, and provides greater visibility and real-time tracking into contract management, according to Conga.

Peloton Consulting Group makes digital transformation a reality by leveraging enterprise performance management (EPM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), supply chain management (SCM), human capital management (HCM), customer experience (CX), analytics, and data management for the cloud.

Peloton engages with businesses of varying sizes, including many Fortune 100—Fortune 500 companies, across diverse industries, including retail and manufacturing. With significant growth in the last decade as it established a broader presence in India, Latin America, Europe, and Asia, Peloton's total number of contracts has grown fivefold during this period.

Amid Peloton's rapid expansion, the legal team wrestled with managing the status of contracts and multiple formats, while dedicating extensive hours to maintaining their contract review pace amid a growing workload. Previously, Peloton tracked all contracts and RFPs in Excel spreadsheets, offering limited views into the contract lifecycle. The team also lacked a centralized communication and document management platform, complicating the contract process and necessitating the adoption of new software to automate the increasingly untenable manual workflows.

Peloton sought a comprehensive contract management system within Salesforce that could offer visibility and real-time tracking into all contract data.

The company decided to leverage Conga Contracts for Salesforce, which expedited implementation and allowed Peloton's procurement and legal teams to control and maintain contract templates. The team can now easily store and update contracts in a central location within Salesforce, eliminating the burden of juggling outdated versions outside the system.

By implementing Conga's Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) solution, Peloton has significantly accelerated productivity, reducing contract review and execution time from days or hours to just minutes, according to the companies.

"The ability to automate manual processes for contract management is crucial for businesses, especially for organizations leading the charge for digital transformation in an ever-changing technologically driven landscape," said Noel Goggin, CEO and culture leader at Conga. "By embracing Conga's automated solutions, Peloton Consulting Group has streamlined operations to enhance transparency and accessibility across the entire contract lifecycle, enabling the team to increase contracting speed and focus on more strategic initiatives for continued business success."

Conga's solutions have further enabled Peloton to decrease administrative burden by automating and centralizing contract processes, allowing the legal team to better allocate 50% of their time away from internal check-ins and manual process updates to focus on legal strategy and efficiency.

"Conga offers a 360-degree view of our sales and provides a streamlined, user-friendly, and customizable solution to meet our growing and diverse project needs," said Elise Hiller, chief legal officer, Peloton Consulting Group. "What we truly value about Conga Contracts for Salesforce is its multifaceted utility, which enhances contract management and offers advantages to other teams across Peloton. As we grow and expand our business, this solution proves to be a versatile, rather than one-dimensional tool."

For more information about this news, visit

Tue, 14 Nov 2023 00:35:00 -0600 en text/html
Salesforce, Accenture unveil joint life sciences cloud solution

Dive Brief:

  • Salesforce and Accenture will jointly develop a life sciences cloud vertical aimed at bringing generative AI and data solutions to healthcare and biopharma organizations, the two companies announced Monday.
  • Salesforce Life Sciences Cloud emerged from a generative AI development hub the two companies announced in May, with the goal of building industry-specific AI models for healthcare, financial services, manufacturing and public sector organizations..
  • The partnership has already yielded a cloud-based patient services CRM solution and a generative AI-enabled pharmaceutical analytics tool using Salesforce’s Einstein AI model and Data Cloud infrastructure, the announcement said.

Dive Insight:

The healthcare sector, with its massive data silos, reams of regulations and aging legacy systems, remains ripe for modernization. But compliance and safety challenges have hindered cloud adoption and raised concerns about solutions that risk exposing patient data.

Industry verticals aim to overcome technical hurdles and satisfy security imperatives on a sector-by-sector basis, easing cloud adoption, accelerating data integrations and paving the way for organizations to onboard generative AI tools.

Accenture and Salesforce aren’t the only vendors aiming to bring cloud-based solutions and generative AI tools to healthcare.

Microsoft partnered with Epic to develop a cloud-based electronic health records solution deployed by Mount Sinai Health System in August, and Google Cloud launched Med-PaLM 2, an EHR-trained large language model, last month.

Accenture and Salesforce are already helping pharmaceutical company Cencora digitally enhance patient engagement capabilities using the CRM giant’s hyperscale data platform, Monday’s announcement said.

The new cloud platform aims to expand data integration capabilities across sales, marketing and other functions.

“The rapid pace of science and technology advancements is making treatment decisions more complex,” Emma McGuigan, senior managing director and enterprise and industry technologies lead at Accenture, said in the announcement. “Data and AI will drive differentiation around how life sciences organizations engage with their customers.”

While the two companies did not disclose the size of their investments in the project, an Accenture spokesperson told CIO Dive the company’s work with Salesforce was tied to its previously announced $3 billion investment in AI.

Mon, 06 Nov 2023 08:34:00 -0600 Matt Ashare en-US text/html
Pimly launches Partner Program for Salesforce SI's to scale The Product 360 No result found, try new keyword!Pimly, the innovator and pioneer of the Product360 is proud to announce the launch of its Pimly Partner Program. This Partner Program has tiered benefits and is open to System Integrators, ... Mon, 13 Nov 2023 07:49:00 -0600 en-US text/html Veeam announces updates to backup for salesforce on Salesforce AppExchange, the world's leading enterprise cloud marketplace

DUBAI, UAE: - Veeam® Software, the leader in Data Protection and Ransomware Recovery, today announced it has launched Veeam Backup for Salesforce v2, available on Salesforce AppExchange Veeam Backup for Salesforce eliminates the risks of Salesforce data and metadata loss from human, integration, and corruption errors. This newest version from Veeam — the #1 data protection provider — extends support for multiple clouds, provides greater security with single sign-on (SSO) and multifactor authentication (MFA), and provides a safe environment for testing and developing via sandbox seeding. Organizations can deploy on-premises or in the cloud, recover exactly what they need when they need it, and experience backup that is custom-engineered for Salesforce data and metadata.

Veeam Backup for Salesforce is currently available on AppExchange at

Veeam Backup for Salesforce    

Data loss is inevitable within an organization, so it’s important for organizations to protect themselves at all costs. This newest version builds on the success of Veeam Backup for Salesforce with its already powerful, rapid-recovery capabilities for IT departments and Salesforce administrators. It underlines why Salesforce data backup is critical to prevent data loss, ensures compliance and enables fast recovery by providing a comprehensive, purpose-built Salesforce backup solution that gives organizations the ability to recover from Salesforce data loss with speed and confidence.

New capabilities of Veeam Backup for Salesforce include:

  • Salesforce business applications: Extended support of the Salesforce platform, including Salesforce Government and Education Clouds, Field Service, CPQ, Person Accounts, and managed packages, is now part of data backup offerings to ensure critical field service data meets compliance and is protected when off-site.
  • Salesforce SSO and MFA: Enable role-based access for backup and restore operators via Salesforce to simplify and Strengthen the security of your systems. Audit trail will keep track of all the sensitive operations.
  • Sandbox seeding and enhanced restores: Restore to your sandbox with data from production or from another sandbox. Set alternate keys and get better controls over hierarchy restores. Enhance your company’s ability to test, develop and troubleshoot with the option to restore production data to your sandbox.    

Veeam Backup for Salesforce is a separate standalone paid product that is new to Veeam Data Platform. Available today from Veeam technology partners, Veeam Backup for Salesforce is sold in one- to five-year annual subscriptions, priced per user license. Veeam is currently offering promotional packages through December 31, 2023 for current customers.

Veeam Backup for Salesforce Community Edition is currently available. Community Edition provides fully functional free backup and recovery of Salesforce data for organizations with 50 Salesforce user licenses or less.

Comments on the News

  • “Reliability and consistency of protecting SaaS data is a key driver for improving data protection in 2023, according to the Veeam Data Protection Trends Report 2023. However, many organizations still don’t believe that Salesforce needs to be protected and that their data and metadata are safe in a cloud somewhere. We disagree – and so does Salesforce,” said Danny Allan, CTO at Veeam. “Veeam Backup for Salesforce bookings grew 195% quarter-over-quarter for Q3’23. With V2, we’re excited to continue to support our customers and partners in this shared responsibility to ensure that their business is kept running and critical data is both protected and quickly recoverable in case of human error, integration error or data breaches.”
  • “Veeam Backup for Salesforce is a welcome addition to AppExchange, as they accelerate business transformation for customers by backing up and quickly recovering Salesforce data and metadata in the cloud and on-premises," said Alice Steinglass, Executive Vice President of and General Manager, Platform at Salesforce. "AppExchange is constantly evolving to connect customers with the right apps and experts for their business needs.”
  • “Our latest study on the disconnect in SaaS data protection reveals that while most end-users recognize the importance of Salesforce environments and data, they find it challenging to safeguard these assets from the threat of data loss,” says Enterprise Strategy Group Practice Director Christophe Bertrand. “Veeam for Salesforce V2 provides essential features to mitigate this risk and enhance data and metadata protection at scale, making it an ideal solution for many organizations in need.”


About Salesforce AppExchange

Salesforce AppExchange, the world’s leading enterprise cloud marketplace, empowers companies, developers and entrepreneurs to build, market and grow in entirely new ways. With more than 7,000 listings, 11 million customer installs and 117,000 peer reviews, AppExchange connects customers of all sizes and across industries to ready-to-install or customizable apps and Salesforce-certified consultants to solve any business challenge.

Additional Resources 

  • Like Salesforce on Facebook:  
  • Follow Salesforce on Twitter: 

Salesforce, AppExchange, Government Cloud, Education Cloud, Field Service, CPQ, Person Accounts, and managed packages, and others are among the trademarks of, inc.

About Veeam Software

Veeam®, the #1 global market leader in data protection and ransomware recovery, is on a mission to help every organization not just bounce back from a data outage or loss but bounce forward. With Veeam, organizations achieve radical resilience through data security, data recovery, and data freedom for their hybrid cloud. The Veeam Data Platform delivers a single solution for cloud, virtual, physical, SaaS, and Kubernetes environments that gives IT and security leaders peace of mind that their apps and data are protected and always available. Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, with offices in more than 30 countries, Veeam protects over 450,000 customers worldwide, including 73% of the Global 2000, who trust Veeam to keep their businesses running. Radical resilience starts with Veeam. Learn more at or follow Veeam on LinkedIn @veeam-software and X @veeam. 

Tue, 14 Nov 2023 22:04:00 -0600 en text/html
Inside California’s billion-dollar bet to overhaul unemployment

By Lauren Hepler | CalMatters

Five years, $1.2 billion. And a new model for government contracting in the tech-challenged home state of Silicon Valley.

That is what California officials say it will take to overhaul an employment safety net pushed to the brink by record pandemic job losses, widespread fraud and the political panic that followed.

The biggest-ever attempt to reform California’s Employment Development Department, known as “EDDNext,” officially started late last year. A roughly 100-person team is leading the rebuild, and is already signing multi-million-dollar contracts for Salesforce and Amazon technology, according to interviews and records requested by CalMatters.

At the same time, the EDD is quietly making plans to move on from its turbulent relationship with longtime unemployment payment contractor Bank of America. Between now and 2025, the EDD will begin rolling out new benefit debit cards, and eventually, a direct deposit payment option from a different, yet-to-be-named contractor, the agency said in a statement.

Ron Hughes, a former state technology official and consultant who came out of retirement to run EDDNext, said his team is prioritizing “the biggest pain points for the public” — online accounts, call centers, identity verification, benefit applications — as the agency tries to turn the page on an era of mass payment delays and widespread fraud.

“EDD did over 200 technology projects during the pandemic. They were basically putting out fires,” Hughes told CalMatters. “EDDNext is really a way of being proactive about it. We want to solve some of these problems, instead of just putting Band-Aids on.”

A chart from the EDDNext Customer Centered Roadmap for 2022 through 2027.

Workers still experiencing payment delays, fraud confusion and jammed phone lines are skeptical — especially since the EDD promised many similar changes after the Great Recession around 2009. Business groups, meanwhile, are sounding alarms about the state’s $19 billion in outstanding unemployment debt to the federal government. They are clashing with labor groups who want to expand jobless benefits and increase payments to keep pace with costs of living, instead of relying on fraud-prone emergency programs like those created during the pandemic — a newer version of an old fight about the scope of the safety net.

“There’s a longstanding narrative… like, ‘Look, see, this is a program that people just abuse,’” said Jenna Gerry, a senior staff attorney with the National Employment Law Project. “If people are concerned with real fraud, then I want to look at what solves it: fundamental reform of the system.”

For Jennifer Pahlka, who co-led Gov. Gavin Newsom’s task force to triage COVID-era problems at the EDD, the challenge ahead is emblematic of difficulties that many government agencies face in adapting to the digital age. As inequality widens and risks like fraud evolve, Pahlka wrote in her book “Recoding America” that the EDD still operates with patchwork computer systems, its staff bound by an 800-page training manual and political dynamics that can leave leadership more beholden to shifting regulatory regimes than real people — fundamental issues that could still undercut EDDNext and its 10-figure budget.

“Do I know how to wave a magic wand and fix California’s unemployment insurance system? No, I don’t,” Pahlka said in an interview. “But I do know that what we’re currently doing doesn’t work, and that other states have some approaches that we should be trying out.

“Start with not burning $1 billion in a parking lot.”

EDD Director Nancy Farias has read Pahlka’s book, and the many state audits that have dissected the agency’s recurring failures. She’s well aware of the “light switch” trap, where a government agency bets it all on one, years-long tech project, then prays it all works when a switch is flipped. To try to avoid that, she and Hughes decided to break EDDNext into dozens of smaller projects through 2028.

“It leaves less room for a big failure,” Farias said. It will only come together, the former labor union executive added, with parallel efforts to simplify the process and alleviate strain on staff: “You can have the best IT in the world, but if you don’t change your policies and procedures, it does not matter.”

The COVID hangover

This past summer, San Diego jewelry maker Phaedra Huebner found herself stuck in a loop that might sound familiar to people who filed for unemployment early in the pandemic.

At 8 a.m. each day, Huebner, 52, said she dialed the EDD right as call centers opened to ask where her benefits were. She used a trick she learned on YouTube to bypass pre-recorded messages, punched in her Social Security Number and tried to get in the queue to talk with a real person. Then came the redialing up to 67 times a day, bouncing between departments and, more often than not, hanging up without answers about when she might see the money she needed to make rent.

The twist: Huebner wasn’t filing for unemployment, but for disability — hinting at how issues with call centers and identity verification continue to ripple across EDD’s multiple large programs. After each day on the phone, Huebner said she wrapped her hands in ice packs to ease the shooting pains in her hands and arms that put her out of work in the first place.

“For six weeks I should have been resting,” Huebner said in early September. “Instead, I’m in pain with no disability income doing all of my own administrative work.”

The EDD’s benefit programs have always been complex and highly individualized. In the majority of cases, the EDD told CalMatters in a statement, people applying for benefits do not encounter major delays. The agency cited its own 2022 survey of several thousand people using its benefit systems, where 69% reported they were “completely or mostly satisfied” with the unemployment application process, and 63% were satisfied with the disability process.

The offices of the Employment Development Department in Sacramento on Jan. 10, 2022. Photo by Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMatters

The problem, workers and attorneys say, is that even a portion of the EDD’s customer base amounts to tens of thousands of people — and when things go wrong, they can still go very wrong.

In January 2022, for instance, the EDD froze 345,000 disability accounts, including an unknown number of legitimate ones, amid a wave of suspected fraud involving claims tied to fake doctors. Putting stronger safeguards in place is one of the “lessons learned from the pandemic that we should be applying to every program,” said former California State Auditor Elaine Howle.

“People saw the (unemployment) program was being defrauded left and right,” Howle said, “and it was like, ‘Shoot, if I can do that, what other programs are out there that I can defraud?’”

Mason Wilder, research manager of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, said unemployment and disability programs are just two examples of many public and private sector systems being targeted as online fraud gets easier. It now costs as little as 25 cents to buy a Social Security number online, leading to a cycle of large-scale attacks followed by broad fraud crackdowns.

The risk of unsuspecting people getting caught in dragnets is only anticipated to grow, Wilder and other analysts say, as technologies such as artificial intelligence allow scammers to work faster and more easily forge documents. Benefit debit cards used by California’s CalFresh food assistance and CalWorks cash aid programs have also been targeted in latest fraud schemes, along with many similar programs across the country.

“It becomes kind of whack-a-mole,” Wilder said.

That’s not to say that the EDD’s pandemic unemployment problems have been neatly resolved. As of September, more than 130,000 California workers were still fighting long unemployment appeals cases, waiting an average of 137 days for a hearing with a state administrative judge, according to U.S. Labor Department data analyzed by CalMatters.

The EDD’s own data shows that the number of rejected unemployment claims has climbed steadily since the pandemic surge, to more than 1.9 million claims rejected from March 2020 through October 2023. The agency says that reflects the success of anti-fraud measures; advocates see it as evidence that the state also continues to trap legitimate workers, given that federal data shows EDD decisions are overturned almost half of the time on appeal.

“I definitely don’t think anything’s been resolved,” said George Warner, director of the Wage Protection Program at Legal Aid at Work. “A lot of the issues remain the same.”

Nancy Farias, director of the California Employment Development Department, in front of the agency’s offices in Sacramento on Oct. 26, 2023. Photo by Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMatters

The EDD stresses that it has implemented changes recommended by the California state auditor — including providing more public data and creating a new plan for future recessions — but the auditor remains unconvinced that several major issues have been remedied. This past summer, the auditor added the EDD to its list of “high-risk” state agencies, unlocking additional resources for potential future audits. Top concerns were poor customer service, high rates of benefit denials overturned on appeal and the agency’s inability to tally pandemic fraud, delaying the state’s two most latest annual financial reports.

“EDD’s mismanagement of the (unemployment) program has resulted in a substantial risk of serious detriment to the state and its residents,” the auditor’s latest report concluded.

EDD Director Farias said that all states face similar challenges, especially when it comes to quantifying fraud that is widely varied and, for obvious reasons, difficult to trace.

“There is no definition of what is fraud… and that’s really the biggest problem,” said Farias, who also sits on the board of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies. “There is Nigerian fraud ring fraud — Fraud with a capital ‘F’ — and then there is, you know, Mary Jo Smith down the street that really didn’t understand what the program was.”

In San Diego, Huebner unexpectedly got an up-close look at how identity verification issues continue to plague the EDD. After she filed for disability, it took a month and a half to get her first check. But then she received a letter in the mail addressed to a woman with a different name and employer in Northern California, which said that her benefits had been discontinued.

When Huebner tried to call to figure out what was going on, she realized that her YouTube trick to get through on the phone no longer worked, throwing her back in benefit limbo while she recovered from a spinal procedure and waited to see if a new EDD debit card showed up.

“They won’t tell you anything,” Huebner said in late October. “Pain is one thing, but helplessness is totally different.”

What next for California unemployment reform?

Before he was hired to fix the state’s pandemic problem-child, EDDNext director Hughes was enjoying retirement on his Sierra foothills ranch dotted with cattle, horses and sheep. He put that on hold and went back to work at the EDD when his former colleague Farias asked him to.

Hughes is quick to note that he wasn’t there for the worst of the pandemic issues. He spends a lot of time talking with other state tech executives who can empathize, such as peers at the DMV.

Even from the outside, it wasn’t hard to see what went wrong at the EDD during the pandemic.

“When you roll out a solution, it needs to work. If it doesn’t work and they call the help desk, you need to answer the phone,” Hughes said. “We didn’t do either of those things very well.”

In June, his team launched a new online portal called “MyEDD,” which uses Salesforce technology for workers to file and track the status of their benefits. Some users reported crashes during the first days of the rollout, but the system stabilized. It will be built out over time, Hughes said, as the agency works through contracts for identity verification and a “claims navigator” to show workers all benefits they are eligible for.

A new call center system using Amazon technology is slated to debut within the year — first for the state’s older disability system at the end of 2023, Hughes said, then for unemployment next summer. The idea is to ultimately go from the five or six systems that EDD agents currently juggle to one system for processing claims.

“Under the new system, there is a single pane of glass,” Hughes said. “As soon as they call in, all the information on their claim will come up.”

It’s not the first time the EDD has tried to streamline its claims system, parts of which date back to the 1980s. Pahlka in her book compares making sense of the patchwork programs to going on an archaeological dig.

After the Great Recession, the state paid Deloitte to upgrade several facets of its operation, including part of its claim management systems, in a series of contracts that ballooned to more than $152 million from 2010 to 2018, copies provided to CalMatters show. That system was one of several that state reports later found buckled during COVID, but Deloitte was awarded another $118 million as the state doled out emergency pandemic funds, according to contracts provided to CalMatters.

The irony, as Pahlka observed in her book, is that the money went to the very vendor “which built the ineffectual systems in the first place.”

U.S. Rep. Katie Porter, a Democrat from Orange County who sits on a U.S. House Oversight Committee that has investigated pandemic unemployment fraud, sighed heavily when asked about the past Deloitte “unemployment modernization” project — a response, she said, to both the contractor in question and a broader lack of oversight on big-budget projects.

“Deloitte has an unfortunate track record of not getting it done here,” Porter said. “If we’re going to contract this and spend our dollars with a private company to do this, we have to hold them accountable for delivering.”

Deloitte defended its work for the EDD in a statement, noting that “many technology constraints highlighted by California elected officials during the pandemic related to functions in EDD systems that Deloitte was not contracted to maintain.”

The company declined to comment on whether it intends to bid on the new EDDNext project.

U.S. Representative Katie Porter speaks during a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 8, 2022. Photo by Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS

Hughes said that no vendor is off the table for EDDNext, but that past contract performance will be taken into consideration for all bidders. This time around, Hughes said the plan is structured to include more oversight.

“It’s just way too much work for one vendor to do, and so we’ve split that up,” he said. “We’ve got different vendors doing different solutions. We can manage them much more effectively that way.”

Familiar fights

Another promise of EDDNext, Farias said, is that workers, advocates and front-line staff will have more of a say in how the project is built. The agency has also created a new customer experience arm, which outside observers like Pahlka see as a promising development.

Gerry of the National Employment Law Project was among the worker advocates briefly shown a version of the new EDD online portal before it launched. It will require more sustained effort, she said, to ensure that people relying on the system end up with something easier to use.

“It’s hard, because yes, we see certain incremental changes, but these systemic issues are still there,” Gerry said. “Unless there really is a big overhaul within the agency culture and the way they’re approaching this EDDNext project, we’re going to see these problems continue.”

The EDD maintains that more visible changes are coming, including a planned redesign of the agency’s 10 most-used forms to cut unnecessary questions, translate them into more languages, and make them easier to understand and access online.

Similar efforts are also underway in many other states, where officials have raised questions about whether the federal government should do more to standardize applications, anti-fraud measures or other elements of the system. Robert Asaro-Angelo, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, recently told a U.S. House committee that states and territories that all currently have their own processes could use more guidance to bolster security while ensuring rightful benefits are paid.

“We keep talking as if there’s one unemployment system. There’s 53 different systems,” Asaro-Angelo said. “These fraudsters being able to pick and choose — they couldn’t be happier.”

In California, concerns about the nuts and bolts of the state’s unemployment program are magnified by a more fundamental concern: the financial quicksand beneath the entire system.

The state unemployment fund that pays for benefits is operating in the red, or “structurally insolvent,” as the California Legislative Analyst’s Office put it in a July 2023 report.

Though the state was making progress on paying down its $20 billion-plus pandemic unemployment loan from the federal government, state forecasts now show the debt creeping back up, adding urgency to a fight over whether to change California’s 1980s-era tax system.

Business groups are already pushing Gov. Gavin Newsom to use other state money to pay down the debt, despite California’s current budget deficit. The state has spent more than $680 million in latest years to pay interest on the federal loan.

“California’s vast unemployment insurance system has been under enormous strain since 2020, and employers are paying the price,” the California Chamber of Commerce argued in an August report.

From her vantage point at Sacramento’s Center for Workers’ Rights, labor lawyer Daniela Urban has watched cycles like this play out before. When the economy tanks, everyone — stressed-out workers, angry lawmakers, state watchdogs, the governor — wants to know what’s happening at the EDD.

But as people go back to work, the outside interest and funding wanes: a collective failure to fix the system before the next time things go south.

“Once the watchful eye is gone, I worry that it will be neglected,” Urban said, “and not by the people working there.”

Thu, 09 Nov 2023 14:58:00 -0600 CALmatters en-US text/html
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