The EPA Inspector General investigates fraud, waste, and abuse, and defines "waste" as "extravagant, careless or needless expenditure of government funds, or the consumption of government property that results from deficient practices, systems, controls or decisions." The Office of Chief Financial Officer's roll-out of the latest PeoplePlus "upgrade" certainly qualifies. This new system caused thousands of wasted employee hours to accomplish what was previously being done in only a few minutes.
Our informal surveys of employees revealed dozens of hours of wasted time per employee just trying to accurately input time. Supervisors, equally frustrated by a deficient system, resorted to telling employees to report inaccurate time just to get paid. The problem seems to fall most heavily on employees working flexible schedules.
Implementing a system that requires employees to input inaccurate time to get paid takes us backwards on accountability, something the new system was supposed to enhance. Additionally, massive amounts of time was wasted trying to make the system function. We learned that many employees on flexible schedules were taking up to two hours to get time certified every two weeks. Assuming 20% of employees are on flexible schedules, that is approximately 5,800 wasted hours each pay period! And unfortunately management blames employees, rather than admitting their user-unfriendly system is to blame.
Because of this gross waste of employee time, as well as numerous violations of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA), NTEU Chapter 280 filed a grievance demanding that EPA bring the system into compliance with the CBA and protect employees and American taxpayers. You can read our step 1, step 2, and step 3 filings by clicking the relevant links. We also referred the grievance to the Inspector General in the hopes that he would investigate the ongoing waste of taxpayer dollars.
The grievance is a four-step process with three of the steps at the agency, and the final step before an arbitrator. Despite the agency refusing to thus far acknowledge a problem, we remain hopeful that the agency will come to its collective senses and settle the grievance, agreeing to fix the system's problems, and thus avoiding the additional litigation expense of taking this to arbitration.