ASU officials are blaming faulty guesswork for the university’s growing payroll crisis.
During the past month, several hundred Arizona State University employees have faced financial uncertainty as their paychecks came in either far short or thousands of dollars above their correct salary.
And the university’s upcoming batch of paychecks, due out next week, is also expected to contain errors, Matt McElrath, ASU’s chief human resource officer, told dozens of payroll specialists at a forum on the problems Thursday.
Hopefully, McElrath said, fewer of next week’s checks will carry the wrong dollar amount.
“We want to make sure next week’s payroll is even better than last week’s,” he said.
During a contentious two-hour forum, McElrath and Adrian Sannier, ASU’s technology officer, offered new details on what prompted the payroll snafu that hit every part of the nation’s largest university.
ASU police officers kept watch on the forum to ensure the discussion remained peaceful, and to find out why they have had to take out loans to pay their bills. The officers present declined to comment beyond confirming that their paychecks also were affected.
Trouble began when Arizona State launched its new PeopleSoft payroll software on July 2. The system operates far differently than its predecessor.
During the changeover, the university’s payroll department didn’t have the data to calculate employees’ paychecks based on the hours they actually worked, McElrath said.
So to ensure Arizona State continued to pay its 15,000 employees as the PeopleSoft system came online, officials had the software estimate what the workers earned, he said.
Obviously, the projections missed badly.
“The estimation of time really didn’t work the way we wanted it to work,” Sannier said.
While some employees opened worthless pay stubs, numerous others dealt with the opposite problem.
Toni Genalo, a research associate in the psychology department, received about $3,800 more than the university owed her in her past two paychecks. To reimburse itself, ASU will withhold funds during the next few pay periods.
The university’s initial reimbursement plan was so severe, Genalo said she feared her health insurance premiums would go unpaid.
“They worked out a way that wouldn’t hurt me that much,” she said.