SUNY Oswego Payroll Office rolls up two state awards

SUNY Oswego’s Payroll Office received a pair of major statewide awards in late June, but John Trombly, the college’s director of payroll, said the honors reflect teamwork among several offices.

The Oswego office earned both a Distinguished Performance Award and a Merit Award at the New York State Comptroller’s Payroll Achievement Awards on June 27 in Albany. The former honors the three most improved offices among hundreds of state agencies over the past five years. The latter recognizes offices that have made the most progress in the past year.

“They are payroll awards, but they encompass a lot more offices than just payroll,” Trombly said.

As an example, he explained that about 16 people, in a variety of offices on the state and local level, have to process information in some way from the time a new college employee receives appointment papers until he or she picks up the first paycheck.

The state Comptroller’s Office began assessing state agencies in 1999, issuing report cards that encompassed many performance measures. “The first report card caused us to examine the way we do things, not only as an office but as a campus,” Trombly recalled. “It ended up looking at the way we process information all along the chain.”

That spurred weekly meetings that included representatives of the college’s Payroll, Human Resources, Finance and Provost’s offices. The group also hosted information sessions with academic departments engaging in hiring.

The result, as acknowledged by the awards, was improved communication between the various offices and more of a “big-picture approach,” Trombly said.

Additional prestige comes because the awards consider Oswego among the highest-volume state payroll agencies. That’s because the campus has around 1,200 full- and part-time employees, between 500 and 600 student workers and around 75 graduate students on the state payroll.

Since the office mostly hears from people when something has gone wrong in the process, the award reinforces everything the office is doing right. “We were very proud not only to receive not one but two awards, but also because payroll is not always recognized in a positive light,” Trombly noted. The awards serve as a reminder that the overwhelming majority of paychecks are processed correctly and promptly, he added.

Rather than rest on their laurels, everyone is committed to continuing the improvement, Trombly said. The new goal is to return to the awards ceremony to pick up the Empire Award, given to state offices with the highest overall score.

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(Posted: Jul 13, 2005)