Augusta weighs human resources options

Revamp or ADP called necessary

Augusta is at a human resources crossroads – either rebuild an inadequate city department or relinquish its tasks to global outsourcing giant Automatic Data Processing, which has a local call center.

 

According to information provided at a recent city work session, outsourcing payroll, leave and other benefits administration to ADP will cost Augusta about $1.4 million annually.

The cost doesn’t include about $1 million in one-time implementation charges, or additional fees that ADP charges when work exceeds established volume levels, Deputy City Administrator Bill Shanahan said.

In 2011, the city spent about $1.6 million on payroll and other human resources services.

Shanahan and ADP officials agree that the department is understaffed and ill-equipped to handle the city’s human resources needs.

“If we don’t use ADP, we cannot leave HR as it currently is,” Shanahan said, adding that when he first visited the office last year, it lacked standard operating procedures.

ADP Vice President Colette Hughes, who manages the company’s Augusta call center, said employees in the human resources department who might be displaced would probably be provided a “private job fair” to see if they might be hired by the company.

Shanahan said the department now has eight employees but needs about 15 to be functional.

At Thursday’s work session, Randy Welch, the government and education district sales manager for ADP, slammed the city’s antiquated paper filing system, adding that ADP would store all employee files on secured computer servers, permitting several employees to access them at once.

During a tour of city departments, the first timecard he saw – at the landfill – was calculated incorrectly, Welch said.

Under ADP’s proposal, city employees calling about their city benefits plans would be handled by ADP’s Augusta call center, Welch told four Augusta Com­mission members at the work session.

Shanahan, however, said he has found complaints of ADP’s performance handling the University System of Georgia’s payroll.

Unnamed university officials told the deputy
administrator they “would not do it again if we could start the process over, due to the current amount of bugs and issues with ADP,” he said.

An Augusta interoffice memo obtained by The Chronicle last month detailed additional difficulties the city has had with ADP, which already handles some human resources tasks.

The problems include inadvertently dropped plans, employee confusion and distrust, and even “combative” ADP staffers, according to the memo.

Sixty million employees, including those of 1,631 local governments, are paid through ADP every year, but “we can’t make everybody happy all the time,” said John Joaquim, ADP’s public sector sales manager.

Joaquim said the situation with the University System was different from the arrangement ADP is seeking with Augusta because ADP and the system opened a shared services center in Sandersville.

Augusta’s work would be handled directly by ADP service centers “using a different work model,” he said.

The ADP Augusta Solu­tions Center on Flowing Wells Road has 800 employees and is growing, Hughes said.

She detailed the community outreach, grants and events the center has implemented since opening in 2008.

The center has 50 “solutions teams” that handle various aspects of payroll and human resources, allowing it to take on some, but not all, of the Augusta functions that would be outsourced, she said.

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