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Politics & Government

Controllers Wagner And Lamb: City Should Implement Joint Payroll System To Save Money

At a meeting this week of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (ICA) Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner urged the city of Pittsburgh to implement a joint financial management system that she said is already-built and ready to go. Wagner said by not utilizing the payroll module, the city is taking a financial hit.

“There’s already a cost to past delays, we’re incurring a cost presently because of present delays and will continue to in the future if there are future delays,” she said.

The city already uses the general ledger module through which the city controller’s office is able to generate annual financial reports. The next major step for the city is to go live on the payroll module of the Shared Services Center, which Wagner acknowledged is more complicated than the general ledger module.

“You have many different bargaining units,” she said. “If you think of all the unions that have negotiated more complex pay, vacation time and so forth – all the different rule making that goes into the creation the payroll system is more complicated because it changes from department to department in the city.”

Wagner said total losses could be as high as $5 million a year as a result of delays. She said, the city would benefit from the switch.

“We’re very confident that there will be, and we’ve documented, very immediate savings for the city once they move onto this,” she said. “The most obvious one is that they won’t have to pay an outside vendor anymore to process their payroll, to process their paychecks every single pay period.”

Currently, the city is paying for such services and for the yet-to-be-implemented system, according to Wagner. Both she and City Controller Michael Lamb are pushing for implementation as soon as possible. They said the Shared Services Center has been lauded as a national model of government efficiency.

The ICA has approved a contract for a forensic audit with the firm Gleason Associates to determine actual costs of non-implementation. The ICA also voted to withhold gaming money from the city until it receives additional information on implementation delays.