May 16, 2013 at 11:12 pm
By Meg Tully
MarylandReporter.com analyzed overtime payments in a database from the Maryland Comptroller’s Office as part of its third annual state government salaries series.
Government workers who got paid overtime had total earnings of up to $160,000 annually, though only 212 out of tens of thousands of employees making overtime made more than $100,000 total from the state. That is about 4% of the 5,663 employees who earned $100,000 or more in 2012.
Here is the list of the 212 employees whose overtime put them over $100,000 a year.
24-hour facilities require more overtime
“Any facility that’s open 24-hours, a hospital, a prison, a jail, there will be a lot of overtime because if someone calls in sick, they have to have coverage,” said Warren Deschenaux, director of the Office Policy Analysis in the Department of Legislative Services.
His office reviews overtime budgets as part of the review for each agency’s annual operating budget. Recently, the office found that two departments were not budgeting enough for their actual overtime expenses.
One of the things the state does to save money is not filling vacant positions, he said, but that can increase the amount of overtime needed when people are entrusted to the care of the state – such as at hospitals, juvenile facilities or prisons. As a result, agencies with vacant positions will pay time and a half for the same work, but might have savings because they don’t have to pay benefits for extra workers.
Overtime can also be higher in agencies where jobs are unpleasant or difficult and workers take more leave, he said.
MarylandReporter.com’s analysis shows the top 100 annual overtime payments in 2012 went to employees who worked for the following departments, many of whom offer around-the-clock services: Health and Mental Hygiene, Human Resources, State Police, Transportation, Public Safety and Correctional Services, State Universities and Colleges and the University of Maryland.
The top three workers for annual overtime payments, and 15 of the top 40, worked at the C.T. Perkins Hospital Center in Jessup for DHMH. The hospital houses the mentally ill who are also dangerous and accused or guilty of violent crimes.
Top overtime payment nearly $80,000
The highest overtime payment in 2012, excluding correctional officers, went to Harold Lynch, a Psychiatric Security Technician (Nursing) at the C.T. Perkins Hospital Center worker who brought in $79,647 in overtime. His salary was $46,911 and his gross payment from the state was $128,902.
Some individual correctional employees’ overtime payments are higher than the analysis reveals because of an accounting change as the department reorganized in 2012. Payments to those employees were recorded separately before and after the reorganization. However, the total overtime payment to all Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services employees was $42.7 million.
The overtime data presented by MarylandReporter.com is not available on the governor’s StateStat website at present, but it could be included in the governor’s new data.maryland.gov website once it is fully up and running, said Takirra Winfield, a spokeswoman for Gov. Martin O’Malley.
That website, launched May 8, is intended to act as an open data portal for researchers, citizens and others to support transparency and innovation in government, according to a news release.
How StateStat tackled overtime costs
Overtime earnings was one of the costs tackled by O’Malley’s StateStat program, a data-based management approach.
Numbers provided by O’Malley’s office show that overtime payments have decreased since he took office, dropping from $155 million in fiscal 2007 to a low of $124 million in 2010. Since then, overtime numbers have crept up to $139 million in fiscal 2012 – which is still $16 million less than fiscal 2007.
The database provided by the comptroller’s office recorded calendar year 2012, which spans fiscal year 2012 and 2013. Overtime payments totaled $126 million in that calendar year.
One agency where O’Malley targeted overtime payments was the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA), according to Winfield.
In fiscal 2008, the state spent more than $30 million in overtime for the MTA. As the StateStat team tracked overtime spending for all agencies and looked for causal factors by isolating divisions and types of overtime used, MTA was flagged for having long-term absenteeism.
By creating a long-term absenteeism policy and a specific “return to work” managed program, employees on extended leave were encouraged to get back to work more quickly, she said.
“The results of these efforts have meant big savings for the State of Maryland,” Winfield said. “Overtime spending has been cut by 41 percent since FY08, saving more than $42 million in overtime expenses over the last four years.”
Top earners in key departments
Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: Harold Lynch, psychiatric security technician (Nursing), salary of $46,911 and $79,647 in overtime, for a gross payment of $128,902.
Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services: Anthony Osandu, correctional officer sergeant, salary $53,359 and $82,284 in overtime, for a gross payment of $137,911
Department of Transportation: Joseph Carter, salary of $83,798 and overtime of $70,011.20 for a gross payment of $152,374.
State Universities: David Elliott, CORRECTION:
maintenance chief 1 mechanical trades chief II, Towson University, $50,565 salary and $62,838 in overtime, for gross payment of $114,466
Maryland State Police: Scott Russell, salary of $64,642 and overtime was $47,681.71, for a gross payment of $144,547
University of Maryland: Harold Pitts, $66,854.09, overtime $47,019.46, gross earnings $114,680
Department of Juvenile Services overtime is Everett Taylor, community detention officer, salary of $54,380 and overtime of $52,414.19, for a gross payment of $107,557
DJS public information office Eric Solomon said Taylor works “with our kids in the community around the clock.”
The Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) has seen a decline in overtime hours since 2011, Solomon said. The agency saw a peak during 2011 as a new administration began to implement updated facility staffing policies and redirect existing resources to make DJS’s facilities safer and more secure.
DJS has added 49 direct care workers using existing resources, which has helped drive down the use of overtime, Solomon said. The legislature just funded 24 additional direct care positions, and these new positions will assist the agency in further decreasing the need for overtime.