SFUSD Superintendent Declares Payroll State of Emergency Over EMPowerSF Issues

SFUSD Superintendent Declares Payroll State of Emergency Over EMPowerSF Issues

SFUSD Announces New Command Center Dedicated to Payroll Issues and Initiates Corrective Actions to Pay Staff

Press Release

San Francisco (November 7, 2022) - San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) Superintendent Dr. Matt Wayne today declared a payroll state of emergency over EMPowerSF, the district’s system for payroll, time and attendance, and other human resources’ functions. Superintendent Wayne will take extraordinary corrective actions to resolve challenges related to EMPowerSF.

Superintendent Wayne said he and SFUSD will take extraordinary corrective actions to resolve challenges related to EMPowerSF, which are bigger than originally anticipated. 

SFUSD engaged the services of management consulting firm Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) in September to diagnose the problems causing payroll inaccuracies, assist in clearing the backlog of critical employee payroll issues, stabilize the overall EMPowerSF platform, and build the necessary capacity within SFUSD to provide ongoing support. 

Concurrently, SFUSD instituted efforts towards resolution in the months of September and October, including:  

  • Removing bureaucratic barriers to compensate staff who experienced issues of non-payment
  • Partnering with the City and County of San Francisco to address systemic issues related to health benefits
  • Launching a call center to provide improved response for staff reporting issues 

Despite these efforts, A&M’s first phase of work revealed that the problems with EMPowerSF are more substantial and complex than were originally known. 

“It is long overdue for us to escalate this issue and take aggressive action. A&M’s diagnosis has made it clear that our current course of action is insufficient relative to the magnitude of the problems. This is an emergency situation that requires extraordinary measures,” Superintendent Dr. Matt Wayne said. “Declaring a state of payroll emergency means we will be doing things differently so that we can do right by our educators and staff. We understand the challenges and disruptions these issues have caused. We are focused on ensuring these challenges can be overcome. You have my assurance, and the assurance of SFUSD, that these problems will be rectified.”

Effective today, Superintendent Wayne is launching a Command Center to fully focus on resolving the EMPowerSF payroll emergency. This Command Center will be an approximately 60-person co-located team made up of reassigned SFUSD staff, A&M staff, Infosys staff, and temporary payroll specialists when fully staffed. 

Staff have been assigned to start in the Command Center today and assignments will continue until fully operational. Additionally, Superintendent Wayne has appointed Marin Trujillo, SFUSD’s Head of Staff, to lead the Command Center and report daily to Dr. Wayne on progress. 

“Our payroll system failures are unconscionable and more complicated than we understood before. Superintendent Wayne and I agree that this is an emergency situation, and that we must act in fundamentally different ways. The Board and I completely support his creating a Command Center to dedicate resources and staff time to focus only on fixing this problem for everyone,” said SF Board of Education President Jenny Lam.

To enhance understanding of progress, SFUSD and A&M will regularly publish progress towards key goals, such as reducing the overall number of tickets, reducing the number of impacted employees, and closing more tickets than are opened each month, via a public dashboard that will be available in the following weeks. 

While the full scale of the emergency is still being determined, SFUSD, with the support of A&M, will continue to investigate the root causes of systems failure and take preventative measures. 

For more information and updates about EMPowerSF, visit www.sfusd.edu/empowersfupdates

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This page was last updated on November 7, 2022