As the city of Augusta prepares to outsource its remaining human resources functions to Automatic Data Processing, a leaked internal memo indicates problems with the city’s existing relationship with the human resources outsourcing giant.
The memo’s release also could mean trouble for whoever alerted the media of its existence, City Administrator Fred Russell said.
The Augusta Commission voted 10-0 on Jan. 17 to move forward with obtaining a price quote from and negotiating a contract with ADP, which operates a Solution Center in Augusta that employs nearly 1,000 people.
The memo, authored by Deputy Administrator Bill Shanahan, is an informally written list of issues raised by city employees, including human resources staff and notes made by Shanahan about existing or foreseen issues between the city, insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia and ADP, which began overseeing eligibility and payment of benefits last year.
Many of the issues are technical, such as long waits for shared files to load between the city and ADP. Others indicate poor customer service, such as “procedures seem to change constantly” and “ADP personnel are sometimes combative, rather than cooperative.”
It also points at ADP as the cause of employees or their family members being inadvertently dropped from insurance coverage, a complaint raised by several city employees last year.
“We have had cancellation in every vendor group; without explanation,” the memo says. “The only common denominator is ADP.”
Other points reference issues Augusta employees are having using ADP’s service.
A phone tree, for example, needs to be “dumbed down” because it confuses some workers, according to the memo.
The city administrator’s office provided the memo to The Augusta Chronicle after it was leaked to another media outlet. Shanahan said the memo essentially is the notes he has taken in an ongoing dialog with ADP and that many concerns have been resolved.
“Some were their fault; some were our fault,” he said.
Shanahan is preparing a white paper on the decision to outsource human resources to ADP to present at a Monday commission committee meeting.
No contract or price has been set, but Russell said implementation costs to the city would be about $1.3 million. The company is able to provide a total package of human resources services, from hiring for positions on, he said.
He called the memo “an ill-conceived document that never should have seen the light of day.” He said late Wednesday that he hadn’t determined whether to punish those involved.
“I have no idea how it got out,” said Human Resources Manager Robby Burns.
The department hasn’t had a permanent leader since the August retirement of Rod Powell, and several employees have resigned or been fired in the past few months.
A proponent of outsourcing and an ADP customer, Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles said the firm had encountered difficulties in seeking information from city employees to develop a proposal.
“I’m sure a lot of people are trying to sabotage that process,” Bowles said, including “some of our upper-level management that believe in bigger government.”