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WV auditor says new payroll system needs to do more

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W.Va. state auditor JB McCuskey

West Virginia has made significant progress with cutting down waste for completing payroll and is using fewer outside contracting groups, State Auditor JB McCuskey told lawmakers Sunday afternoon.

McCuskey said he still sees room for improvement, though, and that the state isn’t fully using wvOASIS, a complicated supercomputer system purchased in 2014 and meant to handle payroll, accounting and asset management.

“The one thing we didn’t do with OASIS is do what it can do. We bought a $150-million computer platform that has the ability to actually have a centralized payroll, and what we have is a completely decentralized payroll that’s using a $150-million computer,” he said.

The auditor said that’s resulted in 156 different ways of completing payroll, adding West Virginia has been the only state to purchase the entire software and computer suite to run the OASIS program.

Though no other state uses such a system as its only means of doing payroll, large cities like Los Angeles — which has more employees than the state of West Virginia — use the system.

“There’s a whole litany of things that we would need to do to address this,” McCuskey said. “It’s a giant lift, but I think it’s a lift that needs to be addressed.”

A recent report from the state’s legislative auditor found the system wasted millions of taxpayer dollars.

Lawmakers in the interim Post Audits Committee were also told the Legislature’s move to stop contracting out printing services appears to be paying off, saving a little more than $200,000 this year.

Legislators also learned there are disparities for how some employees at the state’s public colleges are compensated for holidays. At some colleges, employees work four days a week instead of the normal five. So when employees take off for a holiday, some employees get off for more hours than employees who work five days a week and have shorter days.

Also Sunday, another interim legislative committee met to discuss the state School Building Authority’s practice of requiring construction managers to oversee projects the authority helps fund.

Speaking to the Joint Committee on Government Accountability, Transparency and Efficiency, Harrison County Schools Superintendent Mark Manchin lambasted the use of construction managers. He said such a position meant taxpayers in his county had to front an extra $2 million for a recent project, and about half of that will go to pay the construction manager.

“I didn’t want a construction manager,” Manchin said. “I told the SBA that I didn’t need one. I didn’t need one at the beginning of this project, I didn’t need one in the early stages and I don’t need one today.”

Adam Krason, president of the state’s chapter of the American International Architects, said members of his organization feel the SBA won’t listen to their concerns. He said architects can do some of the work a construction manager does, and a construction manager can’t guarantee a project won’t cost more.

“Unfortunately, for our profession, the need for construction managers is made at the expense of our profession,” Krason said.

Scott Raines, the authority’s director of school planning and construction, defended the use of construction managers. He said they help prevent projects from costing more money by pressuring contractors, since county boards of education don’t have breach of contract coverage.

The SBA recently formed a committee to look at the practice of hiring construction managers. The committee’s next meeting date has not been announced.

Legislative interim meetings will continue this week.

Reach Jake Jarvis at jake.jarvis@wvgazettemail.com, Facebook.com/newsroomjake, 304-348-7939 or @NewsroomJake on Twitter.

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