Big paycheck : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

State's computer almost gives Missoula man a giant payday

HELENA (AP) - Dennis Foy had just been promoted to a new job with the state Transportation Department and expected a raise. But the Missoula man didn't anticipate his first payday would be nearly $1.8 million.

The problem was a misplaced decimal point that transformed Foy's hourly rate from $22 to $22,000, John McEwen, head of the state Personnel Division in the Department of Administration, said Tuesday.

Even after various deductions, the error resulted in an electronic funds transfer to Foy's bank account of $891,000.

"I was thinking about retirement," Foy joked after learning of the mistake.

McEwen said state officials immediately noticed an error appeared to have occurred in the payroll as the direct deposits were being made to employee accounts on Monday night, Jan. 10, two days before the Wednesday payday. The total payroll for each two-week period is usually about $15.2 million, but this one was almost $2 million larger, he said.

Officials could not determine where the extra money had gone until the following afternoon, and quickly reversed the money transfer, McEwen said.

He said Foy will get a corrected paycheck. Dennis Unsworth, Transportation Department spokesman, said Foy's usual pay is about $930.

Foy said he had not received the check by Monday. He said he wasn't aware he was momentarily rich until after the big deposit had been removed from his account.

Foy, who has worked for the agency for 30 years, was just promoted from district design supervisor to district engineering services supervisor.

McEwen attributed the $1.8 million mistake to human error, although he acknowledged that the old computer system used by the state might have been able to detect the unusually large hourly rate or pay amount before the money was actually transferred.

"The old system may have had a couple more edits that would have caught this," he said.

The new system called the State Accounting, Budget and Human Resource System, or SABHRS, has been plagued by problems for months. It has been blamed for other government payment mistakes and has been criticized by state employees as less efficient than the old computer operation.

Dave Ashley, SABHRS director, said his office is developing a program to prevent another oversized paycheck like Foy's. It will alert officials if any salary check tops $5,000, he said.

McEwen said that, although the money was transferred into Foy's account, he never really had access to it. The deposit did not take effective until Wednesday, the actual payday, and the mistake had been found and corrected the day before, he noted.

-- Martin Thompson (, January 26, 2000


Sorry wron url. should be

-- Martin Thompson (, January 26, 2000.

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