Augusta, Georgia Faces Human Resources Decision: Overhaul or Outsource

Augusta, Georgia’s HR Department is hanging on by a thread. Acknowledging that the department was not fulfilling its duties, Deputy City Administrator Bill Shanahan  and other city officials, have put forth two options. The two options that need to be decided on? Hire the huge international outsourcing firm Automatic Data Processing and have a local call center, or completely revamp the current HR department.

Shanahan put it bluntly “If we don’t use ADP, we cannot leave HR as it currently is,”

Augusta’s current HR department “Lacks standard operating procedures” according to Shanahan. The department has some obvious problems such as being understaffed (an eight person staff doing a fifteen person staff’s workload), and still using a paper filing system for all of their documents.

Randy Welch, the government and education district sales manager for ADP, recently did a tour of the cities various departments, and claims that the first time-card he saw was incorrectly calculated. Obviously Welch has a high stake in proving how inefficient Augusta’s current HR department is, however.

At a recent city work session, the total annual cost for hiring ADP for Augusta about $1.4 million.  $1 million in one-time implementation charges, or additional fees ADP     applies for large volume firms such as a city government HR department will also be charged.
Augusta had a $1.6 million budget for payroll and other human resources services in 2011.

While it may appear that ADP is the logical financial choice, ADP has an unsavory background themselves when it comes to getting the job done. ADP recently took over Georgia’s University Systems payroll and lost a staggering $22 million on their computer system. Many are not happy with the idea of ADP getting another government account in Georgia.

As an HR professional, it’s my belief that in order for the Augusta HR department to function properly, it must not be outsourced. If the money being charged in one-time fees by ADP was applied to the department to purchase and implement an HRMS, and some standard operational procedures, maybe the need for such a large staff increase will subside. Running all of the cities departments payroll on paper has to be incredibly laborious and time-consuming. A good HRMS would reduce the need for so much staff, without the need to outsource. It will be interesting to see what decision Augusta makes, and how it turns out for them.

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