Hundreds of Coloradans waiting for millions of dollars due to state computer problems

1,500 backlogged claims in unclaimed property

DENVER - A CALL7 investigation has found thousands of Coloradans are waiting for millions of dollars owed to them by the state. The backlog is due in part to major computer problems affecting the  Department of the Treasury, as well as several other state agencies and departments.

Jane Coleman discovered months ago that the unclaimed property office, a state "lost and found" for forgotten accounts, was holding about $2,000 of her money -- and said she's been waiting to get it back ever since.

"They sent me a letter the first week of December and these papers to fill out in order," she told CALL7 Investigator John Ferrugia. "Because they were holding, apparently, lost funds in my name."

Coleman said every time she talked to the Treasury Department, she was told her paperwork had been approved. Yet she still didn't have the money. Eventually, a department customer service employee explained the delay was due to a computer problem.

"She told me in June that they had been replaced and that they were not working in June and it had been two months," Coleman said.

Colorado State Treasurer Walker Stapleton told the CALL7 Investigators that Coleman isn't alone.

"Currently we have about 1,500 claims, a little bit over 1,500, that represent about two-and-a-half million dollars," Stapleton said.

Stapleton said that total reflects the amount due for the unclaimed property office alone, and does not include millions more in disbursements the state owes, including to contractors and for rental payments.

"This has been a state-wide issue in different agencies," he said. "And it doesn't make it right. It makes it frustrating all the way around."

Stapleton said the delays are part of the growing pains of replacing an antiquated DOS-based computer system with a new, more efficient one. He said the change was purposefully times for mid-summer, in hopes that the bugs could be worked out by fall, when the pace of state business picks up.

He said he hopes to have disbursements and transfers up-to-date within 30 to 60 days.

"And I can assure people that based on what we worked out last week that we are going to be able to handle these claims in a very effective and efficient manner going forward, and appreciate people's patience," he said.

That leaves taxpayers like Coleman still waiting.

"I'm very frustrated," she said. "I'm on a fixed income and this money would be a help to me … If I'm entitled to it, I want it."

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