GERS, central government working to fix payroll deduction issues


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ST. THOMAS - The territory's retirement system and the central government are working together to reconcile and post payroll deductions for loan payments and contributions.

Payroll deductions for the normal employee contributions to the Government Employees Retirement System, as well as payments on any GERS loans, are taken out by the V.I. Finance Department and transferred to the pension system.

Finance gives GERS a check accompanied by a PDF file of the account transaction. The government's financial management system - the Enterprise Resource Planning System - also sends an electronic file of the record directly to the GERS' V3 system, according to GERS Administrator Austin Nibbs.

Nibbs said the electronic file was not matching the PDF exactly, and the V3 system would not accept it.

"If the file is not correct, than we cannot post," Nibbs said.

The problem first was triggered in August when the Office of Management and Budget changed some of the locator codes used to designate departments and agencies, Finance Commissioner Angel Dawson Jr. said.

Finance altered the codes in their system, but the V3 system did not accept the new codes, he said.

GERS approached the Finance Department in October about the problem.

"When this was brought to our attention, we jumped right on it," Dawson said.

The two agencies began working together to rectify the issue.

Nibbs said they are going back through the records and ensuring they are reconciled. According to information provided to him Thursday, deductions up through Nov. 14 have been successfully posted to members' accounts.

The Nov. 28 payroll deductions are expected to post by today, he said.

Once Finance sends the checks for the Dec. 12 payroll deductions, the GERS accounting division will send the latest batch sheets to the information technology division to be posted to members' accounts.

Nibbs said the issue has created problems for any member wanting to take out a new loan, because in the system it appears as if no deductions were made, therefore they could not be approved for a loan.

"We are extremely sorry for any inconvenience to our members who are applying for loans and cannot get qualified, and especially to our members who have applied for retirement and are waiting for their contributions to be posted to the system in order to retire," Nibbs said. "In order for our new real-time V3 System to function effectively, all electronic or manual files that are received from the Department of Finance or any autonomous agency, must be in balance and free of errors before uploading electronically or inputted manually to our system. The system will not accept files that are out of balance or containing errors."

GERS will continue to work with Finance staff to ensure that the situation does not recur, according to Nibbs.

"It is our aim to find a permanent solution to this problem," he said.

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email alewin@dailynews.vi.

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