Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I blame Matt

One of my duties at work is processing revolving fund checks.  As a carry-over from my old job until T who fell and badly sprained her wrist recovers (estimated 6 weeks) or until my old position is filled and trained (no estimate), I key in the information for automated checks, find someone to print them, type up manual checks,  find someone to run all the checks through the signer, match them to their documents, record check numbers on their documents, then take them to a supervisor for review.  I'm Done.  Sounds simple. Takes hours - when things go well.  The check printer, the check signer, and the check typewriter are all touchy temperamental machines. But that was not the problem here - at least not directly.

Usually Matt runs the printer and signer.  When I have my check batches entered and proofed, I find a safe access person and sign out the checks we need.  I enter the beginning check number in the computer, creating a batch of checks, and Matt prints them.  Once, when we had some one else (A) run the printer, the printer took off running before they were ready with the checks properly loaded.  So A requested that when she prints, we not create the batch of checks until after she has the printer loaded. Breaks my stride a little by changing the pattern, but OK.  Anyway, Matt went on vacation.  It's all his fault.

Today when a gentleman came to pick up one of yesterday's checks, one of the last 3 of a batch of 20 something to be disbursed, I discovered that the pre-printed check number did not match the computer printed check number on the check.  !!!  My super was away from the office.  I consulted with her second, and her former second who is now the Cashiering super.  Universally decided that the check was unacceptable.  But this check HAD to go out this afternoon.  We decided I should type him a check manually and take care of the paper/computer work later.  (Canceling the bad check and recording the new check).  Could not find a check signer operator or even my section manager, so went to an assistant deputy director for a hand signature.  The man was happy to get his check.

However, we realized that the ENTIRE batch yesterday was mis-numbered.  The computer thinks all the checks are 20 later than the actual pre-printed checks.  HOW did this happen????!!! and What to do??

Bad news.  Apparently, how this happened was I messed up.  I must have keyed in the wrong beginning check number. (I blame the break in our usual rhythm and a certain level of stress because of rush check jobs, trying to learn a new desk, etc).  The check printer is supposed to confirm that the checks are printing correctly - mainly that the numbers match.  The check signer records which check numbers are being signed.  I confirm that I am putting the correct check with the correct document.  The reviewer, as a higher level, makes sure it is all right.  The disburser records how each check is disbursed - in person, by mail.  NO ONE noticed the error until today after most of the checks had been disbursed.

Oh, not so.  The check printer HAD noticed the numbers didn't match, THOUGHT about asking me if that was a problem, but decided not to worry - Barbara knows what she is doing.

The reviewer (not my boss as usual because she was out sick) was concerned that supporting documents listed someone's middle name as Anne (with an E) but the check omitted the E.  (Or the other way around) and that a check going to AT&T had the correct address, but the supporting document and the check listed different ROOM numbers. Non critical discrepancies.  But she did NOT notice that the checks all had TWO DIFFERENT CHECK NUMBERS on them.

Today when I discovered the problem, my boss, still sick, was at work but out of the office.  Believe me, when she returned (briefly between meetings with higher ups) and I told her about it, it did not help her to feel better.

It was determined that we should void all the physical checks with the preprinted numbers which the computer thinks have been assigned.  EXCEPT, of course, that one manual check I did on an emergency basis for the gentleman who was waiting for it.  That one is one of the forbidden numbers.  How much worse that makes things, I do not know.

Tomorrow I have to cancel all the bad check numbers and re-enter all the transactions with the pre-printed numbers.  We are crossing our fingers that all the banks involved don't look too closely and honor the checks which were disbursed with the mismatched numbers.

I am sure that 1) this would not have happened at all or 2) certainly not have gone so far if Matt had been here to print the checks.

It is all his fault.

I hope he is enjoying his vacation.

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