Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Payroll, Human Resources Streamlining Discussed at House Interim Study

Several state agencies testified at an interim study today about their ongoing efforts to streamline and consolidate payroll and human relations services, which has not only saved the state money, but has also improved services.

Rep. Jason Murphey, chairman of the House Government Modernization Committee, said the goal of the study is to look at agencies currently sharing similar services and see how those concepts may be spread to other agencies.

“The idea is to look at ways state agencies have realized savings in the past and map out a way to expand those savings to other agencies that are performing similar functions,” said Murphey, R-Guthrie. “The opportunity for savings is huge as services are centralized to a single entity that can be more efficient and effective, all at a lower cost. The private sector has been doing this for years; our state government needs to catch up.”

The Office of Personnel Management testified at the hearing that they provide payroll support services and other human resources functions to more than 40 state agencies, many of which are small and have no need to have a separate payroll or human resources departments.

The Office of State Finance also runs a centralized payroll for several state agencies and proposed an expansion of that program to additional agencies at the meeting.

It is estimated that there are about 114 state employees trained to process payrolls, with about 68 full time employees dedicated to payroll functions across state agencies. Centralization of payroll services could save as much as $2.6 million in salary and benefits alone—even more if Higher Education is included— an Office of State Finance official noted. Additionally, a centralized payroll system would allow each agency to focus on their main mission instead of technical processes like payroll.

A Tourism Department official said the agency has saved an estimated $40,000 per year by working with the Office of State Finance on centralizing the agency’s payroll.

House Speaker Chris Benge said the on-going effort to modernize state movement will continue next session.

“Especially in the midst of an ongoing global recession, we must be more diligent than ever to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent as efficiently as possible,” said Benge, R-Tulsa. “This study will help us will take a look at the innovative steps many agencies are already taking to modernize government and the possibility of expanding those efforts across government.”

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