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My cold, crass heart and Phoenix victims — 6 Comments

  1. As a Group 4-5-6 member, plus group 9? – folks owed refunds from the government for deductions that shouldn’t have been taken, but were anyways, and now no one knows how to repay it – I agree with your method of triage.

    Of course, empowering managers to take action – giving them access to the system, letting them do data input – is too terrifying for the system to contemplate.

    And the much needed creative destruction of most of the central service providers will never happen; empowering departments to choose their providers, and pay for those services runs counter to bureaucratic impulses for control and growth. But imagine if there was a marketplace for federal payroll services. GAC and National Defence went to a new payroll system that failed? No problem, we can shift them over to the system ESDC uses! Instead, the PS gambled big, tossed the dice, and Phoenix came up snake eyes.

    There’s one issue you haven’t touched on at all: Should the government be paying interest on late payments to employees?

    • Interesting ideas, and I see pluses and minuses in there for some of the solutions. I’ll talk a bit about outsourcing and alternatives when I talk about the audit. I was going to talk about that tonight, but went off sideways about sympathy issues.

      For me, I would go even further on the interest. I think there should be the payments. I think there should be interest — at something resembling a respectable mutual fund rate (can’t likely swing for the fences and get credit card rates). I think there should be a lump sum “damages” type payment to everyone during the next contract. And I think a lot of the overpayments should be written off.

      It’s a bit crass, but I think Phoenix has done more damage to morale than DRAP or Strat Review did…

      • Definitely. At least with SR & DRAP there was a modicum of communication and information; Phoenix is a black hole. “Track My Case” gives little useful information to identify what, precisely, is being discussed, and the 1-855 number is risibly bad – temp help agents at the other end with no power to do anything. Even if they escalate you to the Pay Liaison Unit (PLU), they can do nothing – not even accept additional documents – “Send another PAR”, I was told.

        I was once told by one of the Temp Help intake agents that my reason for calling wasn’t sufficiently important to be passed to the PLU. “OK”, I said, “What are the criteria to be passed to the PLU?” “I’m not allowed to tell you that”.

        The information black hole for employees, coupled with the less than transparent information from PSPC is what’s particularly galling here; you never know what’s going on, and straight answers are impossible to come by.

        • I had hoped to cover more of that type of issue in my response to the audit, but in the end, I just ran out of time and energy. Plus I was already really long for the text. I’m thinking of doing one about “what I’d like to see” in the way of info. Any other ideas to include?

          • What to see? Good question.

            1. Categorized list. Not “520K outstanding transactions”, but more granular data. Acting pay. Promotion. Hire. LWOP. Overtime. And so on into major categories of work to be done.

            2. Aged list. Split that 520K by how old the files are. Heck, maybe do both in a chart, so we can see that there are 10,000 transactions outstanding for Acting pay that are over 365 days old.

            3. What transactions were processed over the period. Again, use the chart above to show what’s being addressed. “Oh, they’re fixing the ‘people not getting paid, 120-180 days’ group.”

            Those are macro and just the first three off the top of my head. Micro changes? Fix “Track My Case” to provide details – some descriptive text at least. Fix pay statements to show the Annual Rate – don’t force me to open the calculator, multiply by 26.088 and say “Hmm, close enough” or (more likely) “this rate of pay does not exist”. Fix pay statements to show classification and step – “Oh, this is PM-3 step 2 – but I should have got my step increase a month ago”. Informed people can provide informed input and ask informed questions; when there’s no information you increase the number of iterations between compensation staff and the employee to figure out what, precisely, is going on. That runs counter to the government instinct to hide information, so it will be a tough sell.

            And finally: never, ever, change the numbers on a pay statement. Phoenix does that far too often. I have two hardcopies of the same pay stub that have radically different numbers (except for the net deposit) that were printed ten days apart. Yet another reason I have little to no trust of the system – the numbers dance around.

          • About where my initial list is too…I’ve been mulling over creating a mock report, and the transparency is key to me. With this type of list and report…

            P.

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