Problems in Implementing the Department of Housing and Urban Development's New Payroll System

FGMSD-80-72: Published: Jul 22, 1980. Publicly Released: Jul 22, 1980.

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A Congressman requested that the new Terminally Operated Personnel/Payroll System (TOPPS) at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) be examined because some HUD employees have not been paid promptly and accurately under the system. The employees complained that they received paychecks for wrong amounts due to incorrect withholding and overtime computations, and other errors. Some complained about system delays in adding or terminating personnel and changing employee status.

Most complaints were attributable to four basic problems: (1) the system contained some design weaknesses; (2) it was implemented before operating personnel were adequately trained; (3) an adequate means of resolving complaints had not been provided; and (4) emergency salary payments were improperly treated as advances. It was noted that the TOPPS system design has not been submitted to GAO for approval because HUD has been unable to devote adequate staff to do the system's documentation. Although the system contained procedures to control the accuracy of data inputs that affect pay and related records, it was not designed to deal with inaccurate data carried over from the old payroll system, completely process all transactions affecting summary pay records, nor reject automated processing of pay for excessive amounts. Officials agreed that a formal training program was necessary for system employees; but at the end of the review, action had not been started to develop the program. According to HUD officials, present staffing allowed little or no chance of reducing the current backlog of complaints in the near future. To handle the complaints about not receiving paychecks, the Treasury allowed HUD to implement emergency salary payments from imprest funds. It cautioned that the payments were to be for actual hours worked. HUD emergency payments were for an approximation of the salary due. Many emergency payments became advances or loans that were outstanding for extended periods. Many outstanding payments became uncollectable because employees had left HUD.

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