SF Board of Education Approves Expanded Services to Expedite Stabilization of SFUSD Payroll System

Posted Date

SF Board of Education Approves Expanded Services to Expedite Stabilization of SFUSD Payroll System

Contract amendment will extend SFUSD’s engagement with Alvarez and Marsal (A&M) to adequately address emergent payroll systems challenges and ticket backlogs

San Francisco (December 8, 2022) - The San Francisco Board of Education unanimously approved an amendment to the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD)’s contract with Alvarez and Marsal (A&M), the contractor engaged by the district to address payroll systems issues, at the Dec. 8, 2022 Special Board Meeting. The amendment is for a contract increase not to exceed $8,837,750.00, which will extend A&M’s engagement with SFUSD to adequately meet emergent payroll systems challenges and sustain stabilization efforts.

The contract amendment doubles the number of A&M staff who participate in the Command Center, a centralized team that manages all payroll-related issues, and extends A&M’s engagement with the district through May 31, 2022. SFUSD will incorporate A&M’s support for key operations, such as processing pay increases. A&M will also deliver an “exit plan” to sustain ongoing corrective action post-engagement so that all payroll activities can be transitioned back to SFUSD. The increased contract amount reflects true implementation costs per industry standards, and will not be drawing from unrestricted general funds.

“The clarity that has emerged from our work at the Command Center is instrumental to forging a path toward recovery,” Superintendent Dr. Matt Wayne said. “This contract amendment is necessary for us to maintain our momentum, so that we can minimize the disruption to our staff’s everyday lives.”

As part of the district's Corrective Action Plan to address the payroll state of emergency, the district will be regularly tracking and reporting its progress in 30-day increments. Over the most recent 30 days, the district launched a Command Center, an in-person operation consisting of reassigned SFUSD staff, A&M and Infosys staff, and payroll specialists. This team worked through the Thanksgiving holiday to resolve tickets, identify system issues, and prioritize fixes to mitigate future issues and for many employees. 

In addition to a concerted effort to close backlogged tickets, the district's most recent notable accomplishments in the last 30 days include:

  • Successfully implementing a 6% raise for educators and paraeducators
  • Completing a system fix to ensure employee 403(b) contributions are accurate
  • Publishing a public-facing dashboard to improve transparency 
  • Revising the help desk process to more effectively close tickets and support staff with reported issues by integrating the Call Center and using Zendesk.

Over the next 30 days, the district is planning to continue to train and upskill workers to support faster ticket processing time; plan and execute year-end activities such as payroll reconciliations and W2 issuance to proactively minimize future payroll-related tickets; determine the best approach for payroll adjustments; and continue to test and implement a backlog of near-term IT system fixes.

Additional details about the district's Corrective Action Plan can be found in this presentation, shared at the special SF Board of Education meeting.

“The Board extends our full support for the contract amendment so that we can ultimately do right by our employees,” said SF Board of Education President Jenny Lam. “This is an investment that is necessary for our collective recovery as we continue to establish sustainable and healthy operations.”

Background on Payroll Corrective Actions

In consultation with A&M, SFUSD has implemented extraordinary corrective actions since Superintendent Dr. Matt Wayne declared a payroll state of emergency to accelerate SFUSD’s efforts to address payroll issues. In four weeks, the Command Center, which consists of reassigned SFUSD staff, A&M and Infosys staff, and payroll specialists, has identified major areas of work, established key priorities, and executed the Corrective Action Plan through the following:

  • Developed a systematic case management and payroll correction approach to resolve the ticket backlog by reducing the number of unresolved tickets and closing new tickets.
  • Constructed an infrastructure to conduct root cause analysis, instituting systems fixes and process review so that new issues are prevented.
  • Increased transparency by publishing a public-facing, interactive dashboard of the key performance indicators associated with this effort.

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. To address the myriad challenges that emerged during implementation, SFUSD contracted with A&M to provided management consulting services to SFUSD in September 2022 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. 

Go here to learn more about EMPowerSF. To view the resolution dashboard with performance indicators, please go here.