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State’s new computer system hampers payroll for employees, audit finds


Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia’s $150 million wvOasis supercomputer lacks payroll functions that were available on older, previously used state computers, requiring Division of Personnel to hire additional employees to process payroll, a legislative audit released Sunday concluded.

According to the audit, the Division of Personnel cites nine areas of lost functionality with the new computer system that hamper processing payroll for state employees.

Among the issues cited, if the wvOasis system rejects a transaction, it automatically deletes all accompanying documents and attachments. Also, if an employee transfers from one state agency to another, the prior agency can no longer access that employee’s work history, or enter any outstanding payroll transactions.

Because of inefficiencies in the new system, Personnel has had to hire three employees at nearly $100,000 combined salary to process payroll transactions, the audit found.

The report led Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, to vent his frustrations.

“I’m so sick and tired of hearing about this Oasis thing,” he said, adding, “The point of technology is to reduce the number of employees needed and gain efficiencies.”

However, state Auditor J.B. McCuskey told the legislative Post-Audits Committee that no one from Personnel has notified his office or the Enterprise Resource Planning Board, which oversees implementation of wvOasis, about any inefficiencies in processing payroll.

McCuskey blamed aversion to change and “general bureaucratic nonsense” for issues with consolidating 158 legacy payroll systems into the wvOasis system.

“There’s power struggles in every level of government,” he said.

McCuskey said wvOasis was sold to the Legislature on the premise it could produce enough cost savings to pay for itself, which he believes it can do, if all state agencies work together to implement the transition.

“If we want to work together to get this done, we can accomplish these goals,” he said. “It is technologically possible.”

Also Sunday, auditors raised issues with the Division of Highways spending nearly $700,000 to acquire and upgrade property in Putnam County for a district maintenance facility, and then abandoning the project.

According to the audit, Highways purchased the 9.3-acre property on W.Va. 62 near Black Betty, located five miles north of the Interstate 64 Nitro exit, in 2001 for $511,000.

In 2004, the division spent $182,500 to install a rail crossing, including signal lights, over the railroad tracks that parallel the highway and run the entire length of the property.

However, some time after 2004, Highways decided not to locate the maintenance facility on the property, which has been unused since.

Auditors did not attempt to determine a current market value for the property, but surmised that 9.3 acres of riverfront property on the Kanawha River that is located near an interstate exit “could have considerable worth.”

Transportation Secretary Tom Smith told legislators the property is one of several problems that have “landed on my desk” since he took office in January, and requested a month to be able to look into possible ways to dispose of the property.

“I’m not an excuses guy. I think we need to address problems head-on,” he said.

Reach Phil Kabler at [email protected], 304 348-1220, or follow @PhilKabler on Twitter.

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