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50 more Augusta government jobs targeted

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As many as 50 Augusta human resources and payroll personnel stand to lose their jobs if the city outsources those functions.

A search for a new human resources director has been under way but, now, some commissioners want to retain former director Rod Powell as a consultant for three more months to assist with the outsourcing process.

“We’ve had, obviously, quite a few errors in a very poorly managed HR department in the last six years before Rod Powell came over,” said Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles, a proponent of outsourcing.

Those errors include paying as much as $1 million in health benefits to employees from whom the premiums were not being deducted, he said.

Recently, the city has had difficulty ascertaining who in each department handles timecards and payroll, while each of 38 to 40 departments has an employee performing the functions, Bowles said.

Those staffers, plus 10 to 12 in the human resources office itself, are candidates for downsizing, he said.

The city has an accounting firm, KPMG, performing a cost-benefit analysis of whether the services could be done for less.

The 2012 budget approved by commissioners last week allotted $1.09 million for human resources. If these positions are eliminated, they would be in addition to 34 jobs already targeted for downsizing by the end of 2011, City Administrator Fred Russell said.

Powell, who retired in August, said he’d worked in other cities to outsource human resources functions and was willing to remain with the city as a consultant through the process.

So far, he’s agreed as part of his three-month severance package to provide consulting services on certain issues, including the city’s new personnel policies and procedures manual, he said.

Powell is working remotely from his new home in Florida but has agreed to make periodic visits to Augusta.

The outsourcing process means developing a request for proposals and inviting private firms to underbid what the city currently pays its employees to do, he said.

The private sector handles human resources very differently from government, and Powell recommended keeping a couple of human resources staffers in-house to provide a point of contact.

“I wouldn’t recommend contracting everything,” he said.

Processing employee benefits was recently automated and the process contracted out to ADP, a company that promised 1,000 Augusta jobs when it opened a solution center on Flowing Wells Road in 2008. ADP offers payroll services, which currently are handled in-house through what Powell said is a mostly manual process.

While it had narrowed down a list of candidates, the city is likely holding off on hiring a new human resources director because he or she would join the department “thinking they’d be running a normal shop,” Powell said.

Augusta’s four black commissioners have complained about the method used by the remaining six prior to their six “yes” votes to outsource other departments, including the city golf course and Augusta Public Transit.

An extension of Powell’s contract goes before the commission’s Administrative Services Committee on Monday.

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Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 11/21/11 - 10:15 pm
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I have no objection to

I have no objection to outsourcing and thereby riffing the corresponding city workers.

But what we really need, in addition to that, is to reduce employees without outsourcing. People need to work harder and smarter. And surely there are some people occupying a position who can be considered dead wood — some who would not be missed if they vamoosed.

augusta citizen
9698
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augusta citizen 11/21/11 - 10:32 pm
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That would be true in the

That would be true in the private sector Little Lamb, in government, probably wishful thinking. I think "work harder and smarter" is just a taboo in a bureaucracy.

bclicious
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bclicious 11/21/11 - 10:37 pm
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Just in time for Christmas.

Just in time for Christmas. Can we outsource our commissioners as well?

double_standard
166
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double_standard 11/22/11 - 02:09 am
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First procurement ran by

First procurement ran by Gerri Sams now payroll managed by Betty Griffin and human resources in which the HR Manager is Roddy Burns. I see a common thread in these cuts. Why not cut DDA, the library on laney walker, get the tag office out of the ANIC building that the county does not own, housing and community development, the cemeteries, and this newly proposed economic team for Deke.

Brad Owens
4727
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Brad Owens 11/22/11 - 07:13 am
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double_standard, Great ideas,

double_standard,

Great ideas, and all need to be cut.

What I have learned in the past half-decade working in the private security field, where you product IS people and services, is this;

You NEED one manager, one admin person and one H&R/logistics person per 500 to manage them well.

I have learned that they key to success in the services industry is based on three factors;

1.) Vet your employees well, pick the right people for your mission
2.) Train and equip them well for the job they must do
3.) Directly supervise an support them on the job

Inside of each of those is a plethora of things that must be done, but that is it in a nutshell. Pick good people, train them well with the tools they need to do the job and directly manage the work.

The problem I see with giverment is that there is NEVER any punishment for poor service or misbehavior. There in ZERO accountability unless someone is hurt or they break major laws. Hell, we can't even fire people caught STEALING on camera, much less if they are not productive and frugal.

Comes down to good management. In the position we are in now, good namagers get hurt because they are already running things tight and the "fat" ones get to cut without feeling the pain really. So once again, we punish those who produce and manage well and reward the fat and lazy or poor performers.

That is why service jobs can be outsourced with great results. Because we out here in the contracting world MUST run things with fiscal responsibility or we lose money. Giverment contracts are highly competitive and have very little profit in them for that reason, plus there is PUNISHMENT clauses written into OUR contracts that the giverment would NEVER put on direct hire employees (thank Unions for that one).

I am sure that service and support related activities can be done by the private sector at a savings to the tax payer and increase of service to the clients.

Example;

H&R
Admin support
Training
Logistical support activities
Physical security (non-law enforcement related security; e.g. security of Municipal Building)
Janitorial services
Maintenance of vehicles
Maintenance of parks, trees, landscaping
IT
Communications
Utilities admin support (bills and customer service support)

There are certain things that the giverment must do for themselves; Courts, law enforcement and elections come to mind. But I have learned that when the crunch comes, the giverment employees will be just fine while we suffer here in the private sector to pay our taxes and stay solvent.

Brad

P.S. There are MANY places to cut, I feel it is a shame that the mayor is expanding his own office, and for a job that is NOT his to do I might add, while others that are vital are being cut. But then again, that goes right along with the CABAL's idea of "progress," WANTS of the few before the NEEDS of the many. Where should OUR taxes be spent?

Dixieman
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Dixieman 11/22/11 - 07:27 am
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We have MORE THAN 50 HR and

We have MORE THAN 50 HR and payroll people for a city the size of Augusta? You have GOT to be kidding!!

Brad Owens
4727
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Brad Owens 11/22/11 - 07:40 am
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Dixie man, I made a comment

Dixie man, I made a comment about that but it has not shown up yet.

allhans
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allhans 11/22/11 - 10:15 am
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Didn't I just read this

Didn't I just read this morning that city workers will get Wednesday off with pay. That means Wed.Thurs.Fri...I never had it so good. Christmas maybe, but Thanksgiving? Next year it will be a full week, you think? And someone said they have a problem finding new hires. :-)

Chillen
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Chillen 11/22/11 - 10:44 am
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I'm sorry for these people

I'm sorry for these people but our economy is in a shambles so more & more cuts will be made - govt & private sector.

All the false news we get about the economy modestly improving is trickery.

Here is reality. When you print trillions of dollars out of thin air & inject it into the economy, it creates a temporary sense of normalcy, that everything is OK. However, it's not OK. Inflation is kicking in and getting wildly out of control. This will destroy your savings. Government & private pensions and retirement funds will not be able to keep up with the rising costs of food, clothing & energy.

Get yourselves ready for the economic tsunami headed out way. Mosey over to the store & stock up on beans, rice & canned food. You will need it. Buy everything you think you will need for the next few years right now (clothing, shoes, medication). Consider some solar panels to help deflect rising energy costs.

You will be very glad you did it. Think about it as a savings account. If inflation continues at 5-10% each year (and that is being kind), there is no better place to put your money than to invest it in food & items you know you will need.

Some ammo & a weapon to defend your home might be useful also. Have you all seen the amount of break in's, robberies, etc lately?

augusta citizen
9698
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augusta citizen 11/22/11 - 11:39 am
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Chillen said, "When you print

Chillen said, "When you print trillions of dollars out of thin air & inject it into the economy, it creates a temporary sense of normalcy, that everything is OK."
This is so correct, and isn't it a shame that for all of that money printed and spent, the results have been so minor? I mean here you spend trillions of dollars and the economy gets a teeny bit better. We obviously aren't getting c*#p from all of these stimuluses, QEII's, etc. Then any tiny results you did get disappear when it's stopped, but the debt on our future is still there for our children and grand-children to shoulder.

The advice in Chillen's last few paragraphs is prudent. Everyone needs to pay attention to what is happening around them. Always be prepared to take care of yourself and your family, the government will not do it for you folks, just think about hurricane Katrina!

Chillen
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Chillen 11/22/11 - 11:53 am
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augusta citizen. You got

augusta citizen. You got that right! If the government says come to this camp, we'll take care of you & feed you, I'll run the opposite direction & head for the hills. Heaven help this nation. Where is Ronald Reagan and Calvin Coolidge?

joebowles
104
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joebowles 11/22/11 - 12:44 pm
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All employees would be

All employees would be interviewed if ADP was successful in this re-organization. If qualified and needed they would be hired by ADP.
The point here is to try and make our government efficient.

To date we have not laid off a SINGLE employee, while other around have. It's time to help out our taxpayers.

augusta citizen
9698
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augusta citizen 11/22/11 - 12:53 pm
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The taxpayers definitely need

The taxpayers definitely need help Joe. Hope you guys can stream line these departments, good luck!

athome
92
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athome 11/22/11 - 02:49 pm
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How many people does Augusta

How many people does Augusta employ to need 50 HR and payroll personnel? That seems greatly over staffed. Whoever allowed $1,000,000.00 to be paid in insurance benefits for employees who paid no premiums should be fired ON THE SPOT and repay the million dollars to the city.

falconjag
8
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falconjag 11/22/11 - 05:46 pm
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All the hyperventilating in

All the hyperventilating in these comments is making me nauseous. Oh, for some real journalism! FACT: Augusta only has a dozen or so HR employees, and most of the people in other departments do payroll for 3 hours every other week, as part of their other duties which are generally secretarial or clerical in nature. Streamline? YES. Fire the lazy? YES. Outsource? MAYBE - somebody needs to study it instead of knee-jerking like so many of these comments. Accountability is the name of the game. If we had some we wouldn't be having this discussion...

AutumnLeaves
8507
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AutumnLeaves 11/22/11 - 08:43 pm
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Is it true that Augusta has

Is it true that Augusta has paid a million in benefits over some period of time to people that didn't have a premium for these benefits ever taken from their paychecks?

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