CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Two blank fields in payroll information for two West Virginia University employees caused the glitch that made thousands of employees miss their direct deposit paychecks during Thanksgiving week, university officials explained.

Under an arrangement with the state Auditor and state Treasurer, the University is responsible for submitting to the state all information necessary for the wvOASIS system to process WVU’s payroll. The university is also responsible for confirming information has successfully been processed so that employees are paid as expected.

This was only the fourth time this process was run and like with any new system, WVU officials concluded, unexpected issues can arise. Those issues have now been corrected, the university says.

The problem began as a result of one missing piece of information for the accounts of two employees, university leaders concluded this week. This lack of information caused the system to stop processing the payroll submission once the system hit one of the blank cells in the data file.

This error also revealed that the university did not have enough reconciliation procedures following submission of payroll data to the state to confirm all employees would be paid, university officials concluded.

Rob Alsop

“The short version is that two small pieces of information were missing in the payroll data sent to the state. This omission caused the processing of the entire payroll information to stop from that point on. While the University had measures in place to identify errors, they were not sufficient to detect the problem that occurred. The University therefore did not fulfill its responsibility to provide the necessary information to state officials,” university vice president Rob Alsop wrote in a memo to faculty and staff.

“We have taken steps to avoid a repeat occurrence, and have successfully tested those corrections in advance of the Dec. 8 paycheck.”

MORE: Read a complete report on the causes and actions taken in response.

The problem on Black Friday affected 11,507 of 15,021 accounts that should have received payroll deposits, said university spokesman John Bolt.

It took until that Monday to straighten out the problem, and employees received their pay then.

At the time and again this week, Alsop offered an apology to those who were affected.

“I want to personally apologize for the extreme inconvenience and even angst the situation caused many in our WVU family. Although I am incredibly proud of those who took action to find and repair the problem – and take steps to get cash to a small number of individuals to bridge the gap – it was nevertheless an unacceptable failure on our part,” he wrote in the memo this week.

“It is also important to note on that the Auditor, the Treasurer, their staffs, and employees from wvOASIS were instrumental in solving the problem quickly on Nov. 24. We owe them thanks for their efforts. And, finally, we thank you for your patience and understanding during a very trying incident for all.”

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