In Short

Oregon’s new payroll system working out glitches

By: - May 24, 2023 10:13 am
Department of Administrative Services building in Salem.

The Oregon Department of Administrative Services, headquartered in Salem. oversees payroll for state employees. (Ben Botkin/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

Oregon state officials say the new payroll system that serves about 45,000 state employees is improving – after it caused widespread consternation as workers were underpaid, overpaid or not paid at all.

The Department of Administrative Services, which oversees state payroll, did not identify any systemic problems with the system during its May 1 payroll, said Andrea Chiapella, a spokesperson for the state agency. 

However, officials were unable to provide the Capital Chronicle with a number of how many errors the system had in its April or May payroll periods. Chiapella said the agency doesn’t have confirmed numbers of errors as it fixes the problems. “We are working quickly to identify a solution that meets the high standards that we – and our dedicated state employees – expect,” Chiapella said in a statement to the Capital Chronicle.

After the new payroll system started in December, hundreds of state government workers had their finances thrown into chaos in a variety of ways, such as when they didn’t get paid for overtime, didn’t receive paychecks or even got overpaid without realizing it. The situation forced workers to go to food banks, take out loans or max out their credit cards to survive.

The payroll system errors affected 4,500 employees in January; 2,767 employees in February and 2,151 employees in March, state records show.

The agency is working to fix how the system calculates overtime pay and income tax withholdings, Chiapella said. As the work continues, the state is hiring an accounting firm to audit paychecks, Chiapella said.

The state spent several years planning a $21 million payroll and human resources system, called Workday. It handles a variety of human resources needs, such as training and job transfers. The system went online in 2019, but it wasn’t used for payroll until last December, replacing a 1980s-era system.


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Ben Botkin
Ben Botkin

Ben Botkin covers justice, health and social services issues for the Oregon Capital Chronicle. Ben Botkin has been a reporter since 2003, when he drove from his Midwest locale to Idaho for his first journalism job. He has written extensively about politics and state agencies in Idaho, Nevada and Oregon. Most recently, he covered health care and the Oregon Legislature for The Lund Report. Botkin has won multiple journalism awards for his investigative and enterprise reporting, including on education, state budgets and criminal justice.