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Payroll issue has state employees coming up short

Posted July 2, 2008

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— Hundreds of the state's 86,000 employees could be missing money from their paychecks because of input problems associated with a new payroll system that began rolling out to state agencies last year.

Judy Hearn, a nurse at Dorothea Dix Hospital, is one of those employees.

"In my estimation, it's close to $1,700," Hearn said of the amount of overtime and shift differential pay she says she is missing.

Her employer, the Department of Health and Human Services, was among a number of agencies that implemented the $70 million system, called Beacon, in April after an initial phase of testing.

The issue, in part, is that it did not recognize overtime or differential pay some employees were to receive.

"Some of the issues also come with training on how to use the system," said Tom Lawrence, DHHS's director of public affairs.

But Lawrence said the agency is working to getting payments for employees on a case-by-case basis.

"We did about 25 yesterday," he said. "We expect more today, three to four times that many."

Other state agencies, such as the Department of Transportation and the Department of Correction, are also having similar pay problems.

Dennis Patterson, a spokesman for the controller's office, said there isn't a technical problem with the system. The issue is with individual departments entering incorrect information.

Dana Cope, executive director of the State Employees Association, says it could soon become a legal issue because federal law requires employees to be paid within a certain period of time.

"They should have anticipated these problems and we want them to be fixed," Cope said.

The Office of the State Controller, which oversees the system, says it expects to have the problem corrected by the end of July.

Employees can call hotlines to have their case reviewed, in Raleigh, 919-707-0707 and elsewhere in the state at 866-622-3784.

"If the state doesn't resolve this issue quickly by paying our state employees what they deserve and what they work for, then we will be looking to file a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor," Cope said.

52 Comments

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  • NC Tar Heel Law Jul 4, 3:15 p.m.

    I work for State Capitol Police under DOA. We started using Beacon in Jan, 2008 and still have problems in not getting payed, no night shift pay, over time, or all three. When the State Controller's Office representative said that we have been turning in the wrong paperwork is the reason are pay is wrong is true. Because Beacon (AKA State Controller's Office) keeps change the forms every month. Just last month I was given two different forms to fill out for Duel Employment. This has to stop!!! The State has they have been-aware of this problem or problems for six months and we (State Employees) still have to pay the price. My bills are getting behind, and I running out of savings. Like I said “THIS HAS TO STOP!!!”

  • NC Tar Heel Law Jul 4, 2:48 p.m.

    I work for State Capitol Police under DOA. We started using Beacon in Jan, 2008 and still have problems. When the State Controller's Office spokesman said that we have been turing in wrong paperwork is the reason we are not getting payed, this is not true. Beacon keeps on change the forms. Every month we get new types of forms to fill out. From the start I have had problems with Beacon. Not getting Duel Employment pay, Night shift pay, or over time. This problem needs to be fix. My bills are getting behind, and I running out of savings. For six months they have known of the problems and we still get short. And the lame story is this, you have a computer program set up for Monday to Friday 8 to 5 work week and the state is trying to re wright

  • zanerx Jul 3, 9:01 p.m.

    The State Controller's Office spokesman who made the comment that there was no technical problem with BEACON should be publicly reprimanded and forced to retract his comments. I supervise three employees; they have all had BEACON post incorect leave balances, and one has had his salary inappropriately docked because of a system error. The BEACON personnel responsible for addressing problems are apparently completely overwhelmed by the backlog. The old system may have been creaky, but at least it worked on a basic level. BEACON is the shiny new car sitting in the driveway with the puddle of transmission fluid underneath it.

  • killerkestrel Jul 3, 5:08 p.m.

    They started NCDOT under BEACON first, and there were problems from the start, and they didn't iron them out before bringing other parts of the NC government on board. Like one NCDOT employee said "I love helping the people of NC, even though they hate us". We used to be able to count on our check every two weeks, but when BEACON came along, it was like russian roulette. Random people would have their pay or leave messed up. You would have bills due, and no money because the payroll was messed up. Morale was not good to start with, with people feeling that you get promoted on politics and having to beg for a payraise to try to catch up with inflation, but now! And how is this suppose to be more secure? You can change ones deposits online, and everyone knows nothing online is 100% secure. And not to mention that BEACON put skill block pay raises on hold for almost a year.

  • bluedishes500 Jul 3, 4:13 p.m.

    I am a Time Administrator in a State facility and I agree 100% with Casey04....it's NOT a joke. I have never experienced the level of abuse from my fellow coworkers as I have since the implementation of Beacon. I am the one who is yelled at, hung up on, receives the ugly emails and I have employees in my work area multiple times a day crying and yelling at me because no one at Beacon will help them. Training was definitely inadequate.

    In my opinion, a pilot program should have been implemented in a 24-hour facility to fix any problems discovered where there are multiple and flex work schedules, temporary employees, various pay rates, incentive pay, overtime, etc.

    Instead of blaming the Time Administrators for the pay problems think of the evenings, weekends, and holidays that were spent at work since Beacon implementation trying to enter time before the deadlines in hopes that YOU would be paid correctly.

  • Casey04 Jul 3, 3:26 p.m.

    For those of you who think all of this is a joke let me tell you it's not.. Just try and imagine being the one responsible for your fellow employees paychecks on this system, and having to do it without proper training. Heck we as "Time Administrators" can't even get help because there's nobody that knows how to make this program work. I've called the help desk many times only to be told they didn't have an answer for me and somebody would get back to me. Meanwhile employees aren't getting paid, leave balances are incorrect and all they can tell me well " it SHOULD work, we Think it will work itself out"
    I'm not sure who was in bed with whom when this system was bought but state employees are paying dearly for it. Let's hope somebody gets on our side soon...

  • 7Degrees Jul 3, 1:17 p.m.

    As a DENR employee who started using this system in April, I can say that someone should be fired for spending $70 million on it. Who releases a time keeping system that doesn't even allow you to print your time sheet, accurately account for your leave balances, or include your YTD salary information? NO ONE was trained on how to use this system! The HELP Desk is worthless, I know, I have tried is several times. After the April checks came out and only about 25 DENR employees didn't get paid, people said the system was a success! Tell that to those 25 people's creditors. When you add the fact the NC DOT has used this system and the designers KNEW about these problems but yet they released it anyway, it is just another great example of the State accepting a sub-standard product and then using our tax-money to fix it.

  • airbornegirl16 Jul 3, 11:15 a.m.

    I can say that so far I have been one of the lucky ones and my pay hasn't been screwed up by Beacon. However, I cannot say that for some of my collegues. Some of them end up with $600 and $700 checks and that is not even enough to care for an individual and these people have families. I think the government needs to get back to what matters, its employees and not fancy trips to Europe in Bentleys and 88% pay raises. Then again it is up to us the citizens of this state to truly research and vote for those who have our best interests at heart.

  • enderby Jul 3, 9:55 a.m.

    Beacon is written with SAP. As inappropriate as SAP is for this application, they are planning to spend much more money to use it for the state accounting system. What a mess.

  • venitapeyton Jul 3, 7:58 a.m.

    This is shameful and disgusting. If the problem has been going on for so long, is the State only getting around to reviewing AFTER it received more media attention? This is more of a human problem than a technical one. Not paying your bills will screw up your credit and cause more anxiety. SEANC should dump Dana Cope. He has no clue...just likes being in front of a camera. A federal investigation should have happened long before now. The problem didn't arise yesterday. The faster response seems to have started because of media attention. Each state employee should write a letter of complaint to his/her state legislator (and Congressional ones). Then email/call or write a note to 100 friends and colleagues, detailing their pitiful response and consider supporting the opponent's upcoming campaign.

    I PERSONALLY know how unfair State government can be. Incompetence still seems to rule. Hopefully we won't have to learn how to be stupid just to get fair and equal treatment.

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