Md. lawmakers create special panel to investigate payroll mistakes

MD House Bill 223 Earth Hour 2-16-2011 007

Part of Md. lawmakers offices in Annapolis are pictured here. The lawmakers have created a special panel to investigate state’s payroll mistakes

By Josh Hicks

Dina Holden, 25, a corrections officer in Somerset County, said several of her last few paychecks were missing overtime and regular pay, forcing her to scale back holiday shopping. “This is the worst time of year for this to be happening,” she said.A special Maryland legislative panel will investigate recent payroll mistakes that shortchanged state corrections workers for several weeks leading up to the holiday season.

State Senate Finance Committee Chairman Thomas Middleton (D-Charles) and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore) on Friday announced plans to form the work group, accusing Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and his administration of “irresponsible oversight.”

“What has happened here under this administration is unconscionable,” Middleton said, adding that the administration had been warned about potential problems with a new payroll system installed this year.

Hogan spokeswoman Amelia Chasse said the administration will cooperate with the review panel.

“Ensuring that every state employee is paid correctly for every single hour they work is incredibly important and is something taken very seriously by this administration,” she said.

 The state issued more than $81,000 in paper checks last month to help rectify the errors affecting corrections workers, whose pay is complicated because of overtime, night shifts and special assignments. Officials with the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services say the mistakes occurred when timekeepers manually transferred information from employee time sheets into the state’s payroll system.

Nearly every Maryland agency uses a new online payroll program chosen by the administration of former governor Martin O’Malley (D), but corrections employees still use paper time sheets because of a security policy that prohibits Internet access in prisons.

Because of the recent problems, the state has begun testing and installing a new swipe-card timekeeping system for corrections officers that automatically transmits their hours into the payroll program.

The administration has also set up an office to quickly resolve paycheck errors, and it has hired dozens of temporary employees to help process payroll information.

The administration has promised to work with state-employee unions to determine the full scope of the problem and provide back pay. The errors have affected less than 1 percent of the state’s nearly 9,900 Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services employees, said Amelia Chase, deputy communications director for the  governor’s office.

via Washington post



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