The information below is copied from the VA's web site touting the NEW AND IMPROVED time and attendence system. Far from what they are saying, this system is a step backward as far as employees and timekeepers are concerned. Employees are losing the most by the implementation of this system.
VA Time and Attendance System
I will be adding comments and problems with this new system as I receive them. Right now (October 10th) it is just being rolled out. But we see numerous problems and we need to slow down this wreck before employees end up losing pay and benefits!
VATAS is an automated, centralized, web-based time and attendance system developed to replace the legacy Enhanced Time and Attendance (ETA) system. VATAS is a customized, COTS (Customer Off The Shelf) product developed in accordance with OPM/VA rules governing Title 5 and Title 38 leave policies.
VATAS is a centralized Time and Attendance system. Upon full implementation, there will be no need for IT personnel to upload ‘patches’ to individual, decentralized ETA platforms (each VA Medical Center has their own, unique iteration of ETA), and there will be a significant reduction in time to implement changes that result from new legislation or policies relating to time and leave entitlements.
Additionally, VATAS will not allow exceptions. All leave and premium pay requests must be approved before timesheets can be processed, and VATAS sends notifications to supervisors/timekeepers when transactions are processed.
VATAS also allows VA to report time and leave data to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service's (DFAS’s) payroll system more accurately, it is accessible outside of VA’s firewall, it provides more accurate reporting to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)/OPM, it incorporates extensive reporting capabilities for time and attendance data at all levels of an organization/Administration, it allows for timesheet certification on Friday and Monday, and it eliminates the need for stations to maintain manual records for both credit hours and compensatory time for travel.
CONCERNS FROM THE FIELD - (These comments are from multiple sources.)
Here are some questions regarding VATAS
· There will be a heavy reliance on time keepers (Our concerns: part time, off the ward, additional duties, Mon-Fri days)
· Make sure nurses don’t need to constantly monitor their schedule in VATAS system, not required to do so
o According to HR/training, people are designated AWS or not AWS, concerns since many of us go in and out of having AWS (status can only be changed back and forth by payroll)
· The supervisor will have an expanded roll
o Only work Mon-Fri days, compressed schedules
o Need back-up plan, none in place right now
o HR is recommending daily checks of VATAS, especially with leave requests
o Concern: how will requests go through for extended leave?
o Requests can get “stuck” Can the timekeeper override this?
· Computers needed
o Not everyone has access to computers at work, will affect timeliness
o Not everyone is computer savvy
· Concern: can someone else enter leave?
· Concern: payroll will be moving to another building one mile away from the Medical Center, how will employees get access/help? Time to travel to meet face-to-face?
· Education: Live meeting or TMS
o Thin clients—don’t support streaming or sound
o Time to get 45 minutes away for training, will need coverage
o Modality to complete without needing to use comp time or overtime
· Pay issues: will they get paid in 3 calendar days as per the master agreement?
o Tom “It was not their intent to negotiate that.”
o Should be a way to pay in emergency situations, but not 3 days
o premium pay has to be entered separately, will likely get missed
o Need something in place for emergency payment.
o Back-ups for timekeepers
· Premium pay
o Very concerned people won’t be compensated
o Title 38 hasn’t been tested
· Notification of leave approval
o Tom’s unsure how it will be done
· Requesting step-by-step instructions written out for staff
Employees must create a new username and a 12-character password that must be changed every 90 days to log into this NEW AND IMPROVED system.
Our Chief Shop Steward just came to my office after attending the VATAS Timekeeper Training. Employees will not be able to use the leave in the current pay period while on leave. If an employee had a balance of 32 hours of leave on the books and requested 40 hours of AL this week expecting to use the leave they would have accrued this pay period, they would be denied leave or put in a LWOP status.
And more disturbing, an employee who is retiring, and say this is their last week of work, would not get credit for the AL they would have used during this last pay period. In other words they would forfeit an earned benefit because of this new pay system.
I attended the VATAS system training today. We learned that this system will not allow employees to enter leave for more than their current balance. This creates a problem with the local MOU we negotiated with VHA for “Advanced Leave” requests using seniority and priority.
We are approaching the timeframe for folks to start requesting advance leave for FY2014, and the VATAS system starts next pay period.
I asked if the Vista T&L system would remain active. I was told, "yes", as far as she knows. But will not be used for official requesting and approving leave. Also users will have to request leave (already approved) in the new system.
The timekeeper encouraged folks to print all future approved leave requests from Vista, and enter then into VATAS ASAP.
My thoughts are…..
ü As a tool for requesting and approving “advance leave” (for staff that do not have the time yet available in VATAS) staff use the Vista T&L system just to get their time entered and approved.
ü When the employee has enough leave in the VATAS system then enter the approved time from their “Advanced Leave” requests
This would work if…..they do not intend to disable the Vista T&L system, or make it READ Only.
· We just learned in morning report that no one will receive their passwords to VATAS until October 24, even though it is being “launched” on the 20th. We need to be sure that it’s included in negotiations that people who are on leave prior to this are not penalized.
· We have had occurrences here recently where staff haven’t had their approved leave entered in VISTA and then haven’t received payment for the leave. We’re really concerned about how haphazardly this is being done.
· We had our DTB in a long time ago, and they have been dragging their feet with involving us and with educating staff. This has the potential to be a disaster…
· TMS training for VATAS is ludicrous, bare bones training.
· I did notice that after entering leave there are 2 paragraphs before you hit SEND that are very concerning...talks about
o If anything is false you acknowledge that you may face "disciplinary action and possible removal". I don't remember the exact verbiage but the options for choosing SL also concerned me.
· Per a lab employee who has done both TMS and video version because she inputs the time for lab: "we will be lucky if any of us get paid".
· She has concerns that now the timekeepers are entering leave requests; where does this authority come from? Why not the supervisors?
· Also, she has concerns with the time it will take simply because of all the new codes. Lab is already short staffed and the timekeeping duties are in addition to lab work.
· She also expressed concerns with shift differential. Evening shift lab has always received 5 hrs of off-tour differential. Now that a shift cannot be entered because of the 30 min lunch (1 shift is entered as 2), how are they going to get the 5 hrs? I can see this being an issue for all areas, especially nursing since we have so many different tours.
· She also talked about VATAS being just a package for DFAS, and is not VA specific. The feeling being that it has NOTHING to do with VISTA going away.
· I feel very strongly that VATAS should not move forward at this point in time. I feel the TMS version of training should be scrapped.
ü I took the TMS VATAS training for employees. It appears that it does allow user to enter advance leave, but it calculates how much they will earn and compares it to any other leave already requested in the system as well.
ü Therefore it does not allow a user to request more leave than they will accrue within the timeframe of the request(s)….with consideration to what they have used, and what they have currently requested.
ü The system also has a handy calculator so users can see how much time they will have accrued up to a specific pay period.
October 24, 2013
The three day emergency payment has not been accessible since DFAS began processing our pay. There is a national grievance on the subject listed on the NVAC website.
Although we have not activated VATAS, we have a handful of employees owed a full pay period from last payday. It is hard to know what to tell them when our contract provides for timely and proper compensation and they cannot buy groceries. Sorry about that, wait a year until the grievance is settled?????
The three day payment can’t be met by any facility due to the fact that Financial Management Services changed the process and removed the ability of the facilities to write checks thus tying the hands of payroll to make the 3 day payment. All payroll can do now is enter a help ticket and hope DFAS picks it up and processes it in a timely manner. So much for centralization.
In our discussions regarding the VATAS, the Fiscal Chief indicated that he would not have any means of paying any employee outside of the system…..thus, he rendered the section in the Master Agreement meaningless….
I’ve had an abundant amount of employees coming to me this morning stating their MyPay account is reflecting 0.00 pay for deposit tomorrow. We rolled out the VATAS on October 7th.
The Director wants to meet with the employees at 3:00 who were affected. I advised her the contract is very clear on proper compensation on regular based pay and they have 3 business days to get the employees their money.
System needs to be fixed immediately. Timely & Proper Compensation should not be complicated through help tickets etc., through payroll service.
Employees are due their pay within three days of the system error, and checks must be made part of the fix.
Denver is having enormous problems with VTAS. There are 182 employees that are at this time not being paid. Further overtime and shift differential will also not be paid. Thanks
Our issues with DFAS are larger than this one isolated event. OWCP Leave Buy Back is a nightmare through DFAS. Union member AFLAC Insurance deductions are being dropped with no notice to the employee… I hope the national grievance requires some kind of quantitative metrics as a remedy to assure timely processing of VA transactions for a change in the future.
I am in Massachusetts and am very upset about the new VATAS system. I googled “why VATAS is being installed?” and found your page. I see that you are requesting feedback from people regarding this “improvement”.
I want to tell you how frustrated, angry and upset I am about this change, it is
making my job SO MUCH HARDER. This system is taking up so much of my time
that I am not getting work done in my primary job as a program support
assistant. There are constant problems with the system and I am tired of
chasing after supervisors to revert to pending various over-times that were
originally requested but not worked, for example. Leave requests that are
split are driving me crazy with exceptions being triggered. I am also
having to seek supervisors’ time to approve changed schedules for AODs on a
weekly basis, when I used to be able to build the schedule into VISTA in a
matter of seconds.
What used to take seconds is now taking hours and it’s making my work experience very very unpleasant. A job I once enjoyed has become a living hell because of this aggravating new timekeeping system. I hope that the unions will be able to fight this, cancel the contract with Kronos and get OUR (we are taxpayers after all!!) money back from them, and revert back to VISTA, a highly effective timekeeping system that was a normal part of my daily job, was very efficient and easy to use.
From: VHANYH Broadcast
Sent: Monday, October 28, 2013 1:43 PM
To: VHANYH NY Exchange Users; VHANYH BK Exchange Users
Reverting back to VISTA Timekeeping System
Due to the significant difficulties with the new VATAS system the decision has been made to revert back to the VISTA time keeping system.
Correcting errors in the last pay period (PP 20)
Timekeepers need to complete the corrected timesheet process
in VATAS with Fiscal’s assistance if necessary. Fiscal will then manually
enter this information into DFAS.
Going forward (PP 21)
Your accurate leave balances are reflected in VISTA since all leave requests submitted through VATAS for PP 20 were also reflected in VISTA.
All NEW leave requests for this current pay period (PP 21) need to be entered into VISTA, even if you previously entered it into VATAS. Timekeepers need to post the entire PP 21 in VISTA.
November 19, 2013
From: Union Steward
Sent: Thursday, November 07, 2013 4:42 PM
Subject: FW: Employees with no Valid Outlook Emails.
Here’s another problem with VATAS…. Now every employee needs to be familiar with and know how to work with Outlook. Just like any computer skill, you have to use it. Is management going to train the staff on duty time and give all employees time while on duty to access Outlook to check their leave? In addition, VA employees without valid Outlook email addresses will not be able to log in and check their timecards. (Leave Balance, Annual Balance, LWOP….)
Sent: Thursday, November 07, 2013 3:24 PM
Subject: Employees with no Valid Outlook Emails.
The following report came from Fiscal (Washington DC, National). It shows the people working at VHA618 not having a valid Outlook email address. Please double check these names in EPASS/Outlook and make sure that all employees listed above have a valid Outlook email address.
When VATAS is implemented, the system requires that all VA Employees working and being PAID by our facility has a valid Outlook email address for notification/verification purpose. In addition, VA employees without valid Outlook email addresses will not be able to log in and check their timecards. (Leave Balance, Annual Balance, LWOP….)
It is imperative that all employees should have a valid email address, even Fee Basis Doctors, Canteen Employees, and Housekeeping Personnel.
Minneapolis VA Health Care System