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Gov’T Human Resources, Payroll Failings Exposed

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

Government personnel files “cannot be located 15 per cent of the time”, another report cataloguing further waste and inefficiency that ultimately costs the Bahamian taxpayer.

The study, by the Deloitte and Touche accounting firm, which focuses on the Government’s human resources and payroll systems, details how its internal systems are open to abuse due to a combination of “overreliance” on paper and manual processes, and “ineffective controls”.

Among the problems this creates, which were identified by Deloitte, are:

  • “Numerous cases” where civil service supervisors did not realise employees were off sick, leading in some cases to persons being paid their regular salary for more than one year.

Human resources “often times” was not notified when an employee was on sick leave, even when their annual 20-day allowance was exhausted.

  • Government employees do not have to sign in and out for lunch, even though they are paid for these hours.

Deloitte identified cases when supervisors signed off on an employee’s full attendance, even when human resources could confirm they were not at work that day.

This means some public sector workers are being paid for non-productivity, costing the Bahamian taxpayer while hurting the quality and provision of services to the public.

  • Civil servants have been ‘banking’, or accruing, significant leave/vacation time.

This forced the Government to tell those who had built up more than 50 weeks’ worth of leave to take it.

And, more alarmingly, the Government has to pay out a ‘lump sum’ for any accrued vacation once a civil servant reached the public sector retirement age of 65.

“This is a big cost to the Government,” Deloitte said with some understatement.

“There may [also] be a delay before the person’s first pension payout if they are under 65 and have accrued leave.

“If all the leave isn’t taken before 65, it is paid out in pension benefits as a lump sum payment as part of their gratuity. This is a big cost to the Government.”

  • The Christie administration has committed to public sector pension reform, which is badly needed judging by the Deloitte & Touche report.

It identifies the administration of pensions, and their benefits, as a major problem area, warning that “no one ‘owns this process’ in terms of a Ministry, or department, taking charge of it.

“There is no trigger to notify that a person is 65 and must stop working,” the report said. “People can still be working and paid if they aren’t notified - a person in Education who was 70 and still working.”

The Deloitte report, which was completed in mid-2012, was only made public last week by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), published a batch of documents relating to a proposed $33 million project to overhaul the Government’s financial management and public procurement processes.

The fact that the IDB has chosen to publish the Deloitte & Touche report now indicates that the findings are still relevant, and that the Government has yet to fully act on its recommendations.

The accounting firm found that personnel information was “stored in multiple paper files” spread between different ministries and the Department of Public Service.

This, Deloitte and Touche noted, created data integrity and audit/compliance issues, while making human resources processes within the Government “expensive”.

Similar problems, including the potential for security breaches, also resulted from ineffective controls, which allow access to the Government’s JD Edwards (JDE) payroll system “based on an individual’s request”.

And the reliance on manual processes, Deloitte & Touche warned, also created the risk of “overpayment/unrecoverable funds” from inaccurate calculations of due sums.

“Human resources staff do not use JDE to enter human resources data,” the accounting firm said. “Payroll uses the system as a processing engine for salaried, monthly paid employees.

“Overall, resources lack a holistic understanding of what JDE can be used to do across human resources and payroll, and how to use it.”

Deloitte & Touche said there needed to be an audit of the “countless” codes used to process salary deductions for civil service employees, with deductions allowed to consume up to 75 per cent of their pay.

“Ministry payroll does not have the capability to pull reports to conduct a check of employees’ gross pay/ensure all changes are correct before Treasury runs the pre-pay run. This means pay data can go to the Treasury with multiple errors,” Deloitte & Touche said.

“Human resources may be informed long after an employee leaves the organisation. This means payroll has not been notified and the employee continues to be paid.”

The report also found there was “no cap on employee leave accruals” within the civil service, and that persons “find ways to circumvent” the process for obtaining paid study leave while still employed by the Government.

Comments

duppyVAT 4 years, 9 months ago

But...................... didnt Shane just hailed Elizabeth Keju as a PSC reformer?????? WOW!!!!!!

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asiseeit 4 years, 9 months ago

So this goes to prove that the Bahamian tax payer is getting RIPPED OFF. Government better tighten up and pull in the slack because the majority of Bahamians have no more to give in taxes. My back is against the wall money wise and if The government wants more there will be hell to pay. I have no more to give for you to WASTE! I pay taxes (invest) and I expect a return on that investment! I am not getting a return so therefore I will not invest any more of my hard earned money. UNDERSTAND?

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TheMadHatter 4 years, 9 months ago

This is all made very easy to do (the problems) because of the existence of the Public Service Commission and also the Department of Public Service. They make excuses one for the other.

I worked in Finance at a level where many things were known across the board, and could only stand it for three years. Did not want to continue to be a part of that. My identity as a Bahamian was more important to me. I also signed an agreement, as all officers do, to maintain Govt secrecy and I maintain that even today and always will.

If only the PM would place me in charge of DPS for one year - things would be straightened out in a step by step, mild, but effective manner where at the end of the year things would be in order. Of course, that won't happen. If it did, somebody would probably shoot me anyway for taking away their free lunch.

One very big problem across the board is that people who are promoted or transferred (or even hired in many cases) do NOT get any paperwork from DPS on their position. People working in their third or fourth posts in Government are still listed in the system as being in their first post with their first salary. It leads to very very bad worker morale and a disincentive for anyone to try to do better and "move up" because you actually can't move up officially. Many people that YOU know in Govt to supposedly hold certain titles or be in certain positions are NOT in those positions officially. The worker morale factor here costs this country no less than 100 million dollars per year in lost productivity and lost opportunity for investors and business opportunities, student education, etc.

Of course many reading this will think that I am unaware of what 100 million dollars really is. That's fine. Know, that I am aware and that the figure is a minimum figure. Anyone who doesn't believe that simply does not know how things "move" in Govt. It's not my money. It's the peoples' money, and I hate that someone wrote this article to remind me of all of this because it makes me profoundly sad to even think about.

Children are going hungry in this country - living on Ramen Noodles - and it is simply not necessary for them to suffer when we have such abundance, except that it is being squandered.

I wish I could say more, but i would be locked up.

TheMadHatter

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John 4 years, 9 months ago

Why is there so much deafening silence from the chairman of BEC about the high electricity bills despite the price of OIL falling some $50.00 a barrel? Why are Bahamians still being charged same the fuel surcharge they were being billed when OIL was $120.00? Why is BEC still unable to pay its bills when it is charging the consumers (US) THREE TIMES what the cost of electricity should be? This been going on since JUNE so they should be able to pay off the fuel bill and buy SIX new generators by December 31...so who tiefin? Ya tink is da Haitians dem in the shanty towns?

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ED 4 years, 9 months ago

I am tired of asking WHY, because I know it's because they are crooked theives from the bottom of their lying, cheating hearts. They've been allowed to abuse us for so long, with VERY FEW standing up to them, that they know they can continue to kick in our @ss! Those that attempt to call them out, are VICTIMIZED!! SHUT DOWN!!! PEOPLE ARE SCARED TO SPEAK UP!!

I am preparing to leave for a place where I can see my tax dollars at work and Gov't officials are MADE to be ACCOUNTABLE for their actions. No place is perfect, but the Bahamas is so far removed from the place it could have been. WE allowed these good for nothings to trick us and take all that we had.
Recently, while waiting in BEC line to pay my ridiculous bill, I was making my self clear on how I felt about being right out robbed. Speaking with an acquaintance, while she silently agreed, she began to look around, worried about who was there that wouldn't like my words on these politicians who feel it is their right to take what's mine and not pay they own Bills! Perhaps this lady was afraid she wouldn't get her Christmas Ham from her MP if she agreed!

The Bahamian way, "Hold on....What' in it for me?"

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