Million-Dollar Mistakes!

The following is an article from the Gazette, my community paper.

Although Prince George’s County (Maryland) school officials are confident they can recover most of the more than $1 million overpaid to employees over the past two years, they admit fixing the problem remains a struggle.

An internal audit shows that in fiscal 2005 the payroll office, as of April 7, overpaid 210 employees a total of $548,145. That amount could grow as the rest of fiscal 2005, which runs from July 1 to June 30, wraps up. Combined with fiscal 2004 overpayments of $471,640 – this number was listed as incomplete since information on 160 employees is still being sought – overpayments top $1 million.

This is not the first time that I have heard of these types of problems at government offices — but when was the last time you heard of a private business accidentally overpaying their employees? (Maybe I can find out what they are doing and get our accounting department…..ah nevermind) There is more.

Board Vice Chairman Howard Stone said he was not overly surprised by the audit’s results because in a system with a $1.3 billion budget, mistakes are expected.

Million dollar mistakes are expected! Can you imagine the executive of any business shrugging off a million dollar error? I can visualize the scene at a shareholders meeting if the CEO were to be so cavalier about loosing a million dollars. He’d be fired so fast by the time he got home from the board meeting they would have already Fedexed his personal stuff from the office. With leadership like that, its no wonder PG County schools are having problems.

The problematic Oracle accounting system, the incorrect listing of hours worked by employees, inflated salaries for some retired employees rehired into the school system and a shortage of payroll staff were among the blame for the problems, according to the audit.

I would be willing to bet my next overpayment check that Oracle doesn’t have these types of problems in its offices. Besides if you look at all of the other factors contributing to the problem it probably doesn’t matter what system they have. If you input the wrong salary into a flawless accounting system you are still going to get a check cut with the wrong amount. Later in the article they mention one person that was still getting checks three months after they had been fired!

When I read stories like this I have got to wonder why there is even a debate about school choice. One things is for certain don’t believe it when PG County school teachers complain about being overpaid!

You can read the whole thing here.