Improvements Are Needed in the Department of Agriculture's Centralized Payroll System

FGMSD-80-69: Published: Jul 17, 1980. Publicly Released: Jul 17, 1980.

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Weaknesses in the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) centralized payroll system have caused pay problems such as duplicate, late, or erroneous payments, and incorrect deductions for health care premiums. The payroll-personnel system is operated by the National Finance Center (NFC) in New Orleans, Louisiana. The system has operated under the same basic design for the past 17 years. However, a redesigned payroll system is scheduled for implementation in late 1980. The system, which GAO has approved, will pay about 130,000 employees in almost 15,000 USDA offices.

An analysis of the redesigned NFC payroll system by GAO showed that the new payroll system will not correct many of the current pay problems which result from inadequate controls by NFC over manual payroll processes. To correct these problems, NFC needs to: (1) ensure that predetermined control totals of time and attendance documents are established by all submitting offices; (2) ensure that manually prepared paychecks are independently verified; (3) periodically reconcile health enrollment records with health carriers' records; and (4) improve physical security, administrative controls, and security planning in the computer operations at NFC.

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