Baltimore’s Department of Finance is steadily chipping away at the extensive backlog of outstanding invoices it owes to goods and services suppliers, thanks to the implementation of a new software system that is gradually transforming how the city runs, the chief financial officer said Tuesday.

Speaking before members of Baltimore City Council, Michael Moiseyev said the cloud-based software, Workday, enables city government workers to communicate, monitor and settle late payments in real time, overhauling a previous “legacy” system that had become obsolete. Now in its third stage of being implemented, the shift to Workday kicked off in 2019 and is ongoing, with two more stages to complete.

Moiseyev presented a graphic to members of the city’s Health, Environment and Technology Committee, showing the city peaked in 2020 with more than 4,000 late invoices — defined as unpaid beyond a 30-day period — at any given time. That number has since decreased to less than half of that, Moiseyev said.

Accounting is just one function of Workday, which also houses payroll and human capital management functions for the city. The city’s spending board approved the switch to the new system with a more than $13.5 million contract that would run from 2019 to 2024, according to a memo about the contract obtained by The Baltimore Banner in a public records request. Workday was selected in part due to its relatively low cost, according to the memo, as well as its ability to meet the city’s needs and modernize its services. The city also considered Oracle and Infor as vendors before selecting Workday.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Several city officials noted Tuesday that Workday, despite its slow ramp-up, offered advantages over the old system. Grants accounting, for example, can be set up and monitored such that the city’s internal system can track expenditures against revenue in real time and automatically. And much of the city’s “technical” work has become easier, the officials noted.

But Moiseyev said progress — including in the city’s procurement division, which has been among the slowest to evolve — has been stymied by key leadership positions being vacant.

City Administrator Faith Leach said Adam Manne, the chief procurement officer hired in May, was worth the wait. “We recruited a world-class leader,” she said of Manne. “And we wanted to allow that leader time to implement his own reforms as part of a procurement overhaul.”

Added Moiseyev, “Since Chief Manne has joined our team, we’ve been working through drafts and notes and ideas. It is coming, truly, very, very, soon, and we’ll be able to show what the future of procurement looks like in Baltimore.”

Manne, who came to Baltimore after leading procurement in Prince William County, Virginia — where former City Administrator Christopher J. Shorter now serves as county executive — for nearly a decade, is credited with saving that jurisdiction “millions of dollars,” according to a May news release about his hiring. He also previously oversaw a switch to a new financial system in 2016 and a new human capital management shift in 2023.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Baltimore’s procurement division, the entity housed within the Department of Finance that purchases goods and services for most city agencies, contracts for about $500 million worth of goods and services a year, according to budget documents. The roughly 32-person division projects issuing 17,500 purchase orders in the current fiscal year, according to the budget. That number has fluctuated in recent years, standing at nearly 24,000 in fiscal 2019 and falling to 18,515 in fiscal 2021.

There have been several high-profile problems in the procurement division over the last year, leading to shortfalls and low supplies of a chemical reagent used in police crime labs, metal polls and chemicals used for water treatment.

Last year, voters approved a general election ballot question that transferred the accounts payable division of the finance department to Comptroller Bill Henry’s office, a move that finance and other city officials said would provide relief to the rest of the Scott administration. Moiseyev said that change has been helpful and was running smoothly despite some “short-term staffing issues.”

hallie.miller@thebaltimorebanner.com

Hallie Miller is a reporter at The Baltimore Banner, where she hopes to dive deep into the city's communities and highlight solutions. She is passionate about engaging readers and using new tools to tell stories. Hallie spent four years at The Baltimore Sun, where she helped lead the organization's medical coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. 

More From The Banner