The great state payroll snafu

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By The Staff


Syndicated Columnist

SANTA FE -- Hasty implementation of a great idea early in Gov. Bill Richardson's administration has haunted state government ever since.

When Richardson took office state government had 70 disparate payroll and human resources systems. It made sense to combine those into one overall system. Many other states were in the process of doing the same thing. Software programs had been developed that would handle such a task.

Fitting 70 different systems into one new statewide system wasn't going to be easy. New Mexico could have contracted to have such a system designed and installed but it was cheaper to buy it off-the-shelf and then hire another company to help you do it yourself.

Such conversions were taking other states in the neighborhood of 28 months to get everything up and running smoothly. That included some time to run both systems in parallel for awhile to be sure they gave the same results and time to convert a few departments ahead of the others just to see how things worked.

But someone in New Mexico state government wanted to do the conversion in half the time and half the cost. That pressure usually is blamed on the Department of Finance and Administration, which was responsible for the new system.

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