System glitches which have resulted in nearly $16 million in overpayments made to employees, causing private contractors to raise concerns about the University of Wisconsin Human Resource System’s security management.

In 2011, an outdated UW Human Resource System was replaced with a new automated system, system spokesperson David Giroux said. UW spent $78.6 million to implement the system but overspent by several million dollars in the payments of private contractors to assess the HRS, Giroux said.

Two audits released last week by the Legislative Audit Bureau identify payroll inefficiencies within the UW System, showing that between 2011 and 2012, the UW system overspent $15.4 million in retirement benefits, bringing up continuing concerns from the Audit Bureau’s 2011 audit, Caroline Seidelberg, financial audit director for audits of the UW System, said.

Paul Stever, deputy state auditor for program evaluation, said despite these inefficiencies, the UW System had taken several major steps to reduce them.

Issues with the HRS security system have also been identified by the audit, which would create a risk of unauthorized payments being made, according to the audit.

Stever said the audit made several recommendations for the UW System to correct these security issues, to which they will be responsible for responding to in coming months.

Giroux said university officials are “slowly but surely” locking down the system so people only have the access that they need.

The UW System has 2,000 people with access to the [payroll and benefits] system, David Miller, UW System’s senior vice president for administration and fiscal affairs said.

“We have to go through each one and evaluate their touch …. There are many steps to authenticating users and many ways to have internal controls built in that filter access and input and provide supervisory feedback,” Miller said.

HRS sends out around 1.2 million paychecks to 75,000 university staff across Wisconsin, according to an article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Mike Mikalsen, spokesperson for Rep. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, criticized the UW System for these inefficiencies and said the new audits show UW’s continued inability to find solutions.

“This is just a classic example of why the UW System has shown they do not know how to manage taxpayer funds very well,” Mikalsen said.

Although there are still monetary inefficiencies, Giroux said they are the cost of “human management.” Since the first audit, which identified the $15 million in overpayments, was released in 2012, the UW has reduced inefficiencies by 90 percent, he said.

“Where we are today is that the errors that are being made are a fraction of what they were and they are being caught within a two month reconciliation window so that we can recover all of the money before its too late,” Giroux said.

Mikalsen said despite this reduction in inefficiencies, 10 percent of the original overspending is still in the millions and need to be further reduced.

Giroux said the separation of duties and security access issues within the system would be resolved by the end of June 2013.

“We welcome the findings to provide another outside, independent viewpoint as we take steps to improve the performance of security of HRS,” Giroux said.

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