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An App Is Helping PennDOT Streamline Payroll, Save Millions

The new ePayroll mobile app, developed by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, makes real-time management of highway workers' payroll and time sheets easier from work sites. Officials estimate it could save $7.5 million annually.

A new mobile app, developed by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), is making it easier to manage the payroll of highway maintenance workers — a profession often driven by external forces like weather, traffic and other events.

This fluidity made managing paper timecards unwieldy, leaving the potential for errors and unnecessary costs for the state and taxpayer.

The new ePayroll app, available for both Apple and Android smartphones, allows highway maintenance supervisors to more easily manage crew worktimes themselves rather than submitting written documents to the payroll department and having that data manually transcribed into PennDOT’s computer system by a clerk.

“Plans can sometimes change due to weather, equipment failure, etcetera, and the app enables field personnel to adjust right from the field,” said Alexis Campbell, press secretary for PennDoT. “Payroll is part of its function, but it’s not the app’s primary purpose.”

The ePayroll app was built in-house by PennDOT’s Mobile App Development Team specifically for the agency’s needs, said Campbell, adding it took about six months to develop. It’s estimated that the new streamlined operations could save the highway department $7.5 million a year.

According to officials, the old system had an 84 percent error rate, with some office staff spending three-quarters of their time simply addressing payroll issues.

"The mobile payroll app is a triumph of teamwork and innovation that addressed a significant need for PennDoT," said Michael Newsome, secretary of administration, in a statement. "It is just one more example of how we are using technology to run government more efficiently and work smarter."

However, the app’s ability to operate in real-time may be one of its best features given the fluid nature the work. "Our employees' time is valuable, and I'm so pleased that this innovative solution has streamlined operations in the field," said Leslie S. Richards, PennDoT secretary, in a statement. "Thanks to the collaboration of PennDOT and Office of Administration employees, a manual process that was once cumbersome is now efficient."

Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Yreka, Calif.