Implementation of the city of Anchorage’s problematic new software spanned two administrations and multiple vendors as it tried to tailor the programs to its needs. As the city played whack-a-mole with ever-surfacing issues, costs increased.
The city purchased SAP software programs in 2011 under former Mayor Dan Sullivan to assist in nearly every function of city government, leaving behind the PeopleSoft program it had been using for about 30 years.
The worst came in 2017 when the city launched the payroll system, which resulted in frequent errors on municipal workers’ paychecks. Their unions, backed by collective bargaining agreements, filed grievances. Over the next two years, the city offered additional paid leave to workers to avoid costly cash penalties.
The police union received the largest settlement, estimated to be worth more than $11 million. Overall, the city estimated it had a liability of $2.7 million due to payroll errors, and settled with unions by giving employees paid leave worth a collective $16 million.
Now, city officials say there’s little legal recourse they can take, despite large cost and time overruns associated with the adoption of SAP.
Here is a timeline of the SAP software implementation:
The SAP project launches with a $10.6 million budget and a 2012 “go-live” date
In April, signs of trouble: Software to automate city government behind schedule; costs are rising
July: Mayor Ethan Berkowitz takes office, replacing Sullivan
December: Anchorage settles two grievances with Local 302
February: Anchorage settles additional grievances with Local 302 and grievance with Anchorage Municipal Employees Association
March: Anchorage settles grievance with Public Employees Local 71
July: Anchorage settles grievance with Anchorage Police Department Employees Association
September: Anchorage settles another grievance with Anchorage Municipal Employees Association
December: Anchorage settles grievances with International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1547 and International Association of Firefighters Local 1264
February: Anchorage settles additional grievance with Anchorage Police Department Employees Association
April: Anchorage settles additional grievance with Anchorage Police Department Employees Association
September: Anchorage settles grievance with Intern & Pipefitters Local 367
October: Anchorage settles additional grievance with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1547