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The Dark Satanic Mills of the Dartmouth Bureaucracy

Timesheets.jpgThe Dartmouth bureaucracy is not like an Industrial Revolution factory, but sometimes its processes can resemble those of the 18th century. Take, for example, the integration of hourly employees’ timesheets into the College’s computerized payroll system.

Step 1: The hourly employee fills out an Excel spreadsheet of hours worked (right), and then prints out the form on paper.

Step 2: The form is then submitted to the worker’s supervisor, checked for accuracy, and signed.

Step 3: Employees’ paper forms are then assembled by the local payroll form area collector, who fill outs a sheet that names the area, the area’s number, the number of timesheets included and a list of full-time people without a time sheet for that period. The collector then mails or carries the timesheets to the payroll office — no faxing allowed except under certain conditions (see the note below).

Step 4: Payroll information for each employee is then manually entered by College employees into the payroll system — with as few errors of transcription as possible.

Though I cannot verify this figure independently, my sources tell me that there are six people employed at this data entry task. Six people! I wonder if they are using punchcards and computers operating with vacuum tubes?

This entire operation could be done on-line for almost no money, and with an improvement in accuracy. Here’s how. How do I know this? Because my own local business, and every other one that I know, uses exactly this type of system. How could the College be unaware of modern payroll processing systems? Or more likely, why were the people who are aware of them stifled in their attempts to bring Dartmouth’s payroll department into the 20th century?

In any event, by my rough math, these six worthy folks cost the College (with benefits and overheads) the equivalent of three young Professors of Economics. Who do we need more?

Note: If you have the stomach for this kind of thing, here are the details of how timesheets may be faxed into the system. The below is an example of the kind of use-ten-words-when-one-will-do communication that characterizes too much of Dartmouth’s bureaucracy. How much time and how many meetings did it take to draft this turgid memo?

>Date: 14 Jan 2010 12:17:01 -0500
>From: Dartmouth Payroll
>Subject: Important Message about Faxed and Late Timesheets
>To: (Recipient list suppressed)


EIS/Payroll wanted to bring something to your attention that is a concern. EIS/Payroll has historically accepted faxed timesheets because EIS/Payroll realizes that sometimes timesheets will be late. However, it is a not our practice to consistently accept faxed timesheets over original timesheets. As you know, the College is trying to find ways to conserve and reduce spending, and faxed timesheets is not a way to exemplify this because of duplicating costs in paper generation.

EIS/Payroll has noticed a few common scenarios in which we are receiving and increased number of faxed copies of timesheets. EIS/Payroll has also noticed that there are some areas/departments where the amount of faxed copies of timesheets has increased signifcantly.

1. The MOST common issue we recognize is that EIS/Payroll often will already have an original timesheet for a particular employee in a department timesheet batch, and the departrment will ALSO fax over a timesheet for the same employee. As a consequence, it causes overpayments to affected employees as a result of duplication due to the timesheet not being marked as already faxed in to us. This happens when revised timesheets are submitted as well, especially if the pay period for the revised timesheet is not clear or missing. This adds costs for us in research/labor and collection of the overpayment amounts. This is also very frustrating for the employee because the collection of the overpayment.

2. EIS/Payroll often receives faxed timesheets through the fax machine in our office, and the timesheets often do not include a cover sheet. This makes it hard for the EIS/Payroll staff to determine how many timesheets are being faxed over, and also if they are from the same department/location. This makes it very confusing for EIS/Payroll staff to figure out as all paper timesheets are entered manually. [Emphasis added]

One important note: Not clearly marking timesheets (copy or original) is very confusing for us.

As based on the above, this is concerning for several reasons:

The initial problem with receiving faxed timesheets for EIS/Payroll, is that even though EIS/Payroll may process the timesheet(s), EIS/Payroll still have to hold the faxed timesheets and place with the originals when they do come in, meaning, EIS/Payroll have to find all the faxed copies and put the originals with them. With the number of faxed timesheets EIS/Payroll receive each payroll, it is very time consuming.

Impact of late faxed timesheets to EIS/Payroll and the Department:

* It can delay Payroll going to the bank, which can result in employees not getting paid timely if EIS/Payroll misses the bank deadline.

* It will diminish a departments’ budget as a result of an overpayment, which can hurt the department if the funds are not able to be recouped by Payroll or given back by the employee.

* It will result in a timesheet being missed as a result of EIS/Payroll staff rushing to ensure EIS/Payroll meet bank deadlines, and the impact to the employee is that they will not receive their pay timely and EIS/Payroll would have to generate an off-cycle check. There are costs associated with check generation.

* Since all timesheets are entered in manually, IF EIS/Payroll are having to rush in order to meet our bank deadlines as a result of numerous late and faxed timesheets sent to us, it can result in data entry errors, which have lead to underpayment errors, which in turn lead to either costs related a special check generated to pay out the difference if the employee was underpaid.

As you can see from above, this does impact your and EIS/Payroll areas greatly when timesheets are faxed and late.

It would be helpful to EIS/Payroll to learn of the root cause of late timesheets for your area, and by doing so, EIS/Payroll are willing to offer to work with your area to better understand what factors may contribute to why timesheets from your location are consistently coming in to EIS/Payroll past the timesheet deadline by fax.

Please know that EIS/Payroll just want to ensure that all employees are paid correctly and their information is entered in accurately the first time. We are willing to setup a meeting whether by phone or in person to see what we can do to partner with your area. We will also connect with those areas that we notice are submitting timesheets consistently late and faxing timesheets each payroll.

In the meantime, EIS/Payroll respectfully asks that you please adhere to the Payroll timesheet deadlines as indicated for all student and biweekly payrolls, and to send original timesheets instead of faxed ones to us. We would like to begin seeing less of faxed timesheets as much as possible. If there is an occasion where you absolutely have to send in a timesheet after the timesheet deadline, we respectfully ask that you scan that timesheet to as an attachment, and in your email message, the subject line should read: ‘Late Timesheet’, and then clearly advise us if we should have already have the original or when to expect the original timesheet. We can use your email as documentation as it will help us as we reconcile timesheets.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter in advance.


Employee Information Services & Payroll
7 Lebanon St Ste 309
Hanover, NH 03755
603-646-2697 (Office)
603-646-1843 (Fax) (Email)


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