Denver City Hall

The Denver City Hall building is pictured on Oct. 3,2020. (Forrest Czarnecki/The Denver Gazette)

The city of Denver’s Office of Human Resources does not collect relevant data in its software system necessary to determine whether bias exists in setting employees’ salaries, a new audit has found.

“The best way to ensure consistency is to check the numbers,” said Auditor Timothy M. O’Brien, whose office could not complete its goal due to the unavailability of data. “Right now, the city isn’t doing that.”

The career service rules for civil servants detail the factors for determining an employee’s pay, including their experience, education and the salaries of comparable workers. The rules also tie employee performance to pay raises, and determine the percentage of increase. The maximum bump for 2020 was 5% for “exceptional” performance.

Auditors found that the city’s software, Workday, did not always include all relevant information for setting employee pay. The Office of Human Resources does have those data in electronic documents, but that format does not allow for easy analysis.

Because of that limitation, O’Brien’s office selected 60 random personnel files to test, but the analysis “did not provide enough assurance that the risk of unequal pay did not exist in the rest of the population.”

While the report noted that Workday has a feature for employees to create an internal resume, the city currently does not require this of workers.

In evaluating merit increases, auditors looked at six agencies with a total of 5,536 workers. A very small portion of merit raises, 111, did not align with the agencies’ own protocols for awarding increases. The deviations resulted in an aggregate overpayment to some workers of $12,341, and a total underpayment to others of $5,719.

The Office of Human Resources explained that incorrect calculations and an exercise of discretion were the two reasons for the deviations. The office agreed with the report’s recommendations to verify their merit pay calculations and upload employee data into Workday.

“It should be noted that this functionality is employee entered/driven and it is nearly impossible to achieve 100 percent participation,” wrote Karen Niparko, the office’s executive director, in response to the recommendations. “However, OHR will continue to pursue completion of this valuable tool in Workday.”