Darfur Goes Digital
Introducing Computerized Payroll Systems in Darfur
Since 2012, the design and implementation of the Planning and Public Expenditure Management (PPEM) project in Darfur has provided a huge impetus for recovery and development for the troubled region.
Working with State Ministries of Finance across all five Darfur states, the project’s main focus is on planning as a pre-requisite for development, and the state’s public spending on local infrastructure and basic services, in addition to maintaining reliable and transparent records of that expenditure. These processes help boost citizens’ confidence about the integrity and transparency of public funds and ensure good use of the public purse.
Addressing Darfur’s payroll management system is a key output of the PPEM project. In 2013, UNDP helped establish a computerized payroll system in North, South and West Darfur.
Prior to this, payrolls across the regions of Sudan were prepared manually for all civil servants; 30,000 employees in North Darfur alone. The manual system caused three main problems:
a. Continuous delay in the completion of the payroll for all employees. Consequently staff received their monthly salaries weeks into the next month.
b. Intended and unintended errors in the payroll. Errors ranged from the repetition of certain names to the creation of fictitious names on the pay list or the removal of an important piece of information pertaining to an employee.
c. Detecting errors was difficult. Correction of errors also proved to be tedious and time consuming.
The digitized payroll system was developed in stages through private consultants. Alongside the technical development of the system, government staff across Darfur were trained in the use and management of the system.
Hassan Adam Khamis of the State Ministry Finance in North Darfur stated that “This newly installed payroll system is user-friendly and attends to our needs at the Ministry of Finance. Now there is less paperwork, less errors and the information is much more secured. The computerized system doesn’t accept repetition of a name and detects an error automatically- hence it eliminates a margin of error.”
Abdel Moniem Adam Mohamed, a data entry specialist, agrees with his colleague stating that although the payroll staff conducts regular and thorough checks, some errors find their way into the final manual payroll. “Errors are no longer possible with the computerized payroll system. The new system is quite efficient in tracking loans, deductions and promotions.” Abdel Moniem further described the new payroll system as being ‘flexible and simple’.
To ensure sustainability and continuous learning opportunities, the authorities in North Darfur requested UNDP to support further training of some selected staff as trainers. A training of trainers (TOT) was conducted in Khartoum in early November 2014.
Sheikh Eldin Izz Al-Arab, Head of HR and Employees Compensations at the State Ministry of Finance in North Darfur attended the recent TOT training. He commented on the impact of installing the new system on the staff members by saying “The new system did free some staff members from the payroll duties, but we managed to quickly deploy them to other more appropriate functions within the ministry.” He added that the ministry anticipated this staffing surplus prior to the installation of the system and had plans ready to handle any staff changes.
Challenges however remain that prevents the system from becoming optimally operational in all parts of Darfur, such as availability of sufficient numbers of computers and printers, a steady supply of electricity and adequate protection of the equipment from heat and dust.
UNDP will continue to work with the State Ministries across Darfur to consolidate the experience of the electronic payroll system and ensure its roll-out across the region. Together with other planning and public expenditure management interventions, the digitized payroll system is on its way to completely reshape Darfur’s public finances and expenditures.
UNDP’s Planning and Public Expenditure Management project has been generously supported by the Strategic Partnership and is currently seeking additional funding for its Phase II (January 2015 – December 2016). For more information, please visit our website.