The state’s new labor secretary, Ronald L. Walker II, has fired several top department officials who were holdovers from the Patrick administration, including Michelle Amante, who oversaw the state’s troubled rollout of a $46 million computer system to manage unemployment benefits.
The 2013 launch of the system left businesses frustrated, and many claimants entitled to benefits were unable to get them. State phone lines and unemployment offices were clogged with strapped workers trying to get help for months after the launch of the online system, built by Deloitte Consulting of New York.
Amante was named director of the Department of Unemployment Assistance by former labor secretary Joanne Goldstein, who left the administration of governor Deval Patrick early last year for a job at Northeastern University. Amante did not respond to requests for comment.
Robert T. Cunningham, former executive director of the Massachusetts Republican Party, replaced Amante Feb. 23.
He has also worked as assistant budget director for the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation and once led a consulting firm, RTC Advisors, state officials said.
In 2007, Cunningham also worked as a financial director at the consulting firm BearingPoint, the company that first won the state contract to build the online unemployment benefits system.
BearingPoint went bankrupt in 2009, and Deloitte Consulting bought its government business, including the Massachusetts contract.
Ann Dufresne, a spokeswoman for the department, said Cunningham had no involvement in the contract for the online system while at Bearing Point. Others fired by the Baker administration in recent weeks:
■ David Wallace, former director of the Division of Apprentice Training
■ George Noel, former director of the Department of Industrial Accidents
■ Heather Rowe, former director of the Division of Labor Standards.
Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, executive director of the Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, a worker advocacy group, called on the Baker administration to quickly name a successor to Rowe. She said the Labor Standards is a critical agency that oversees rules regarding wages, overtime, and employee health and wellbeing.
“Their work is literally the difference between life and death,” Goldstein-Gelb said. “It’s critical that it doesn’t miss a beat, so that we can continue this work as efficiently and effectively as the governor would want to do.”
Dufresne, the spokeswoman, said that Cunningham is the only replacement who has been named at this time.