State makes payroll info self-serve

Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration

Mississippi state government employees can now view their individual payroll and tax information through a secure Web-based, self-service application that has reached a 17 percent adoption rate so far.

The Department of Finance and Administration, which is responsible for statewide human resources and payroll systems, unveiled the application — Access Channel for Employees (ACE) — in October 2002. Atlanta-based EzGov Inc. developed it for about $500,000.

ACE is directly linked to the state's legacy payroll system, enabling employees, with a log-in ID and password, to look up their W-2s. Workers who receive direct deposit of their paycheck can view their last 10 pay stubs. Employees are notified by e-mail when their pay stubs arrive and can they review the information prior to payday.

These examples are the first of several government-to-employee functions being planned, said Cille Litchfield, the department's chief systems information officer.

"We were really overwhelmed by the acceptance of employees and general service workers," she said, adding that information about the system was spread via word of mouth among the more than 40,000 state employees. Initial adoption of such applications usually runs 2 percent to 3 percent, she said.

She said the state estimated 50 cents in savings for every W-2 form that is printed and mailed, providing a significant return on investment. Additionally, she said if employees spot mistakes on their W-2s, reissuing them electronically would take a day or two instead of two weeks.

"This has been the most uneventful W-2 year we ever had," Litchfield said, referring to the number of mistakes. Mississippi may be only the second state government offering its employees electronic W-2s, she said.

To create the application, EzGov, which was a subcontractor in the development of the Mississippi state portal, used its FlexFoundation technology, a software platform for payments, electronic forms and business rules.

Christie Acker, an EzGov account executive, said that adapting the technology meant there is less custom code to maintain, plus it reduced costs and sped up delivery time. She said Mississippi employees also were trained to make updates and enhancements themselves.

The code can be reused to build other functions. Depending on how much money the state can appropriate, Litchfield said the department is planning to enable employees to view more services, such as leave balances, other tax documents and retirement benefits.

Acker noted that very few states are branching into the government-to-employee arena. She said most governments develop citizen-facing and business applications because they are very popular, but government-to-employee services provide strong return on investment, streamline administrative functions and improve time management.

"The reason Mississippi is moving to [government-to-employee applications] is that the true cost savings are realized when they improve efficiencies within their agencies," she said. "States are recognizing that, while this may not be high-profile necessarily, it's much better bang for your buck."

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