From: GOVERNING Management
To: Scott Jenkins,
Subject: How Pa. Is Helping New Hires Get to Work Faster
Date: Thu Jul 24 18:06:29 MDT 2014
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How Pennsylvania Is Helping New Hires Get to Work Faster

BY HEATHER KERRIGAN

In 2010, the state of Pennsylvania centralized its human resources functions for executive branch departments, creating a one-stop shop for all employee transactions from the moment they're hired to the moment they stop working for the state. Rather than maintaining an HR function in each department, this single office completes all employee services, including benefits, payroll and health care.

As part of this centralization, the state set up an online onboarding program for all new hires. Today, new workers (about 200 each month) receive a login and password about two weeks before their start date from the HR department to a website where they can fill out paperwork, enroll in benefits, learn about office policies and explore their new jobs. Not only does the program lead to an estimated $1 million in annual savings from increased productivity and reduced workload, it means that new employees are prepared to start their new jobs on day one.

I spoke with James Honchar, Pennsylvania's deputy secretary for human resources, to find out how the state and employees benefit from the program. His responses have been edited for clarity and length. Keep Reading >>

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The B&G Report

BY KATHERINE BARRETT & RICHARD GREENE

It’s difficult for governments to estimate many costs that will take place in the future. In fact, we’ve gotten kind of tired of coming up with more clever metaphors about inadequate crystal balls, tepid tea leaves, ineffective tarot cards and so on. But here’s one case that reaches the range of the unfathomable. According to an Associated Press article, back in May there was a fire in a government office near the capitol building in Madison, Wis. Madison Fire Department investigators reported about $350,000 in damage -- a hefty amount but not devastating. More recently, the Department of Administration issued a news release indicating that the damage is closer to $15 million.

Maybe the Fire Department and Department of Administration were using different definitions, but this kind of publicized difference in estimates would be like telling folks the cost to refill a tank of gas that was going to be $30 dollars and having it turn out to be over $1,200.

In 2012, a class action suit challenged a law in Illinois that was intended to allow the state to charge retired workers health-care insurance premiums. Recently, the Illinois Supreme Court decided that these health-care provisions were enforceable contracts. This will likely have a ripple effect on other states. For years, the common wisdom has been that pensions were extremely difficult to change for current employees (as they were protected by contract law) but that post-retirement health benefits were somewhat more susceptible to dramatic change. We’d think that this decision might give a boost to start funding these largely unfunded health plans. Keep Reading >>

 

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