These are just a few examples where the ability to see real-time data could present real-time cost savings for the State:
Central Payroll System: The State pays approximately 33,000 employees bi-weekly (excluding the University, which is on its own payroll system). The Central Payroll System is currently stable and functional, but the risks are (1) the inability to support the application long-term, and (2) the inability to modify the system to comply with changes in tax or employment law.
The Central Payroll System uses an older programming language (COBOL) that is no longer common knowledge within the workforce. During the next 3-5 years, we expect to face significant challenges in having staff in place to support the existing system. In addition, the system has limited capabilities to be further modified.
The worse-case scenario is the Central Payroll System experiences a major failure and is unable to process payroll for the agencies’ 33,000 employees. Since failing to pay employees is not an option, the most probable approach would be to pay state employees what they were paid in the prior pay period and continue to do so until the system could be recovered. This would create a host of reconciliation issues (different deductions for different pay periods, inability to pay new employees, paying employees no longer employed by the State, etc.) that will create both employee hardship and significant cost. The cost to locate and deploy resources able to repair the payroll system in crisis mode would also be significant.
Procurement System: The current WiSMART system records the vendor that was paid, how much they were paid and when they were paid. However, there is no data in the system to show what precisely was purchased. Instead, we would need to pull each transaction separately to look at the detail of what was bought. This reduces the state’s ability to leverage its buying power to secure better pricing for both the state and local governments, which ultimately leads to higher operating costs.
In addition, the systems that are currently in place make it very difficult for state employees and employees of local governments to buy off the state contracts. The result is purchases made off-contract at prices that are higher than what is available on-contract, which also results in higher operating costs.
Lack of Data to Make Business Decisions: Just as the State is not able to run reports to show what items were purchased, the state is largely paper-based for reimbursing employee expenses. For example, when reimbursing an employee for mileage, there is no way to determine how many reimbursable miles an employee has driven over a given time period. Therefore, we are unable to determine if the State could save money by providing an employee with a state vehicle (at $0.35/mile) versus reimbursing for use of a personal vehicle (at $0.51/mile).
In 2012, the state purchased 43 vehicles to replace personal reimbursements and/or leases with a savings of $1.4 million over five years. The opportunities that were identified were done so by anecdotal evidence – and then verified by review of the paper records. An ERP system would allow the organization to flag anyone reimbursed for more than a set number of miles to be assigned a state car. Absent that data, we have no way to accurately measure the potentially significant savings that are not being realized through this simple action.
The State will face the same issues of using anecdotal information to deal with the pending retirements of the baby-boom generation. While the State has information on which employees are eligible to retire, it lacks a comprehensive database of what skills and certifications employees have, which makes planning for the eventual transition much less effective. If the State had more information about the skill sets of retiring employees, we could focus training opportunities to ensure the next generation of employees is ready to meet the needs of the State.
These are just a few of several examples where the ability to see real-time data could present real-time cost savings for the State.