SFUSD Superintendent Seeks to Engage with Consulting Firm to Address Payroll Issues

Posted Date

SFUSD Superintendent Seeks to Engage with Consulting Firm to Address Payroll Issues

Proposal Will Go to SF Board of Education for Approval on Wednesday

Press Release

San Francisco (Sept. 13, 2022) - As part of the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD)’s efforts to resolve outstanding payroll issues, Superintendent Dr. Matt Wayne announced he is seeking to engage a management consulting firm to assist in clearing the backlog of critical employee payroll issues, stabilize the overall EMPowerSF system, and build the necessary capacity within SFUSD to provide ongoing support.

Superintendent Wayne will present the contract with firm Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) at a San Francisco Board of Education special meeting on Sept. 14, 2022. If approved by the Board of Education, the firm will begin work by providing immediate intensive support and intervention on the most pressing issues, before moving to a focus on systems development.

SFUSD transitioned to a new system for payroll, time and attendance, and other human resources’ functions on Jan. 3, 2022, which replaced a number of workflows and processes that have been in place for 17 years. In spite of a lot of preparation, shifting from antiquated systems and processes to new ways of working has resulted in issues that have affected payments for some employees. Staff have been working to investigate and remedy each individual issue of non-payment or underpayment and to identify any error patterns caused by a new process or system configuration so that corrections are made for subsequent pay periods. 

“Integrating payroll, HR, and IT systems so there’s an error-free user experience for teachers and staff is a complex undertaking. Despite tireless work from our team, we haven’t been able to get out in front of the problem,” Superintendent Wayne said. “We have to be able to pay people the right amount, on time. It’s time to take a different course and tackle this problem head on with added expertise and capacity. We need to fully understand the technical issues causing mistakes, have a roadmap to fix them, and have the people power to make the changes and set us up for long-term success.”

SFUSD has relatively small payroll and information technology teams. Currently, SFUSD is recruiting for more than 15 vacant positions across payroll, human resources, information technology, and EMPowerSF teams. These vacancies have resulted in salary savings of more than $500,000 from June to September that will help to offset the cost of the contract with A&M.

The proposed contract includes A&M’s engagement in two phases of work with SFUSD. The first phase will focus on addressing the ticket backlog and stemming the flow of ticket requests. The second phase will focus on resolving outstanding pay issues, updating ledgers, and fixing the process and technology problems. This initial phase will cost $805,000. Formal checkpoints are built into the project plan to act as stage gates to align on scope, deliverables and resource consumption, as well as whether to move forward from Phase 1 to Phase 2. Upon evaluation, a second phase of the contract will build up internal capabilities and transition ongoing support to SFUSD staff. The full engagement is estimated to be $2.8 million.

“A&M is highly renowned for their turnaround and operations expertise, and has a strong track record providing leadership and results, both quickly and collaboratively in school districts, public sector organizations, and companies,” Superintendent Wayne said. “They will bring the expertise and capacity to make rapid progress. Working together with A&M, we’ll be able to drive results for SFUSD.”

The Board of Education’s special meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022.