The Employee Suggestion Awards Program is designed to improve Maine State Government by identifying ways to improve operations, reduce or eliminate expenditures and improve morale. This program is a unique program designed to do this by encouraging suggestions from those who know state operations best – the employees. By participating, employees not only have a chance to share their ideas, but also may receive cost savings and/or efficiency awards for their suggestion.

The State of Maine is committed to improving State Government to better serve all its citizens. Critical to accomplishing the goal of continuous improvement are employee suggestions that improve customer service, reduce costs, and improve working conditions and/or streamline operations.

The Employee Suggestion Awards Program is designed to provide fair and equitable treatment of all employee suggestions at each step of the program. If so requested, the name of the employee with the suggestion must be treated confidentially by the Employee Suggestion System Board (Board) and by any other person handling the suggestion until a final decision is made by the Board.

 I. Who is Eligible?

 All Maine state employees except those listed in MRSA Title 5, Ch. 71 (http://janus.state.me.us/legis/statutes/5/title5ch71sec0.html) and MRSA Title 2, Sections 6 through 6E. (http://janus.state.me.us/legis/statutes/2/title2ch0sec0.html)

  

II. HOW DO I SUBMIT AN EMPLOYEE SUGGESTION?

  1. Review guidelines & ineligible suggestions to determine eligibility.
  2. Complete, sign, and date an employee suggestion form (on the right side of this page)
  3. Submit the completed employee suggestion form, along with any additional documentation to support your suggestion, to the BHR State Administrator (incomplete suggestions are returned).

      A. Employee Suggestion Application Guidelines

  1. Type or print (using ink) all required information in the space provided.  Keep in mind that your suggestion must be legible and complete or it will be returned for clarification.
  2. Use a separate form for each suggestion.
  3. When using extra paper to complete your suggestion, please reference the question number and number of pages you are attaching to the employee suggestion form.
  4. If you choose to speak on behalf of your suggestion you must indicate your wishes on the employee suggestion form, and all confidentiality will be waived.
  5. Write a short title for your suggestion that best describes the subject.  Also, give enough of a description so the Agency Evaluation Committee has concise information without having to request further clarification.
  6. Explain the existing method or condition(s).
  7. Explain the advantages of your idea.  If there are cost savings benefits, give as much detailed information on your calculations as possible.  If your suggestion affects a current form, attach a copy of the latest version and copies of the changes that are suggested or proposed.
  8. Employee suggestions eligible for cost savings awards need to include an estimate of savings.  Minimum savings must be at least $250.
  9. If you opt to receive a cash award, all confidentiality will be waived.
  10. Any cost savings award is subject to applicable state and federal taxes.

      B. Ineligible Employee Suggestions

  1. Employee suggestions that do not offer a specific solution or procedure to improve or correct condition(s) described.
  2. Employee suggestions that are subject to collective bargaining.
  3. Duplication of an employee suggestion previously submitted.
  4. Suggestions to eliminate, lower, or raise fees or taxes levied by the State of Maine or political subdivisions.
  5. Employee suggestions that eliminate positions.
  6. Employee suggestions that jeopardize health and safety.
  7. Employee suggestions that fall within the scope of the employee’s assigned duties; if the employee has the ability to authorize, initiate, or implement the employee suggestion without approval.
  8. Employee suggestions already under active consideration.
  9. Employee suggestions that require legislative action.

III. HOW DOES THE PROGRAM WORK?

The program includes several phases:  Employee Suggestion Submission, Eligibility Determination, Presenting Employee Suggestion, Evaluation and Recommendation, Final Approval, and Award Determination.  During each of the phases there are additional tasks that deal with processing and tracking the employee suggestion through the various steps.

      A. Initial Submission of Employee Suggestion

  1. The employee submits an employee suggestion to the BHR State Administrator.
  2. An initial review is conducted to determine completeness and eligibility.  The employee suggestion will receive an employee suggestion number for processing.
  3. If the employee suggestion is incomplete or does not meet the general eligibility requirements, the BHR State Administrator will return the employee suggestion to the employee.
  4. If the employee suggestion is eligible for consideration, it is forwarded to the appropriate Agency Coordinator.

      B. BHR State Administrator

The BHR State Administrator is responsible for promoting the program throughout State Government.  The BHR State Administrator will provide training to Agency Coordinators.

      C. The BHR State Administrator will:

  1. Receive employee suggestions, review for eligibility, record the submission dates, and assign suggestion numbers.  The BHR State Administrator will send a letter of receipt to the employee making the suggestion.
  2. Forward employee suggestions weekly to agencies for review.
  3. Send agencies a monthly submission report.
  4. Retain employee suggestions at BHR as a permanent record.
  5. Submit all employee suggestions and documentation to the Board.  The Board will be the final arbiter as to whether a suggestion meets eligibility requirements.
  6. Send the Board’s decision to the employee and the agency on behalf of the Board.
  7. Maintain a dedicated website for the program.
  8. Maintain a revenue fund for administration of the program.
  9. Provide required the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability reports.
  10. Represent the Board as “Clerk of the Board” pursuant to MRSA Title 5, Chapter 379 §12005-A.

      D. Agency Responsibility

Each agency head has the sole discretion to appoint an Agency Coordinator to act as a liaison between the agency and the BHR State Administrator.

Each agency is responsible for promoting the program in the agency, developing an agency-specific methodology to evaluate awards, and to manage program activities within the agency.  These activities include assisting employees with understanding how the program works and acting as the central information contact for the agency.

      E. Agency Coordinator

The Agency Coordinator is responsible for promoting the program and managing all the activities relating to his/her agency.  These activities include assisting employees with understanding how the program works and acting as the central information contact for the agency.  In addition, the Agency Coordinator has primary responsibility for guiding the employee suggestions throughout the agency evaluation process and monitoring all related activities.  The Agency Coordinator is critical to the success of the program.

            1. The Agency Coordinator will:

  1. Provide employee suggestion forms and program guidelines to employees.
  2. Receive monthly report and employee suggestions from the BHR State Administrator.
  3. Acknowledge the monthly employee suggestion report from the BHR State Administrator.
  4. Track employee suggestions throughout the process using the employee suggestion number and monitoring log.  This will identify the employee suggestion at any time during the evaluation process.
  5. Conduct an additional review to determine agency eligibility.  Although the BHR State Administrator has reviewed the employee suggestion, there may be some instances of ineligibility such as an employee suggestion that is already under active consideration by the agency.
  6. Return suggestion to employee if the suggestion is not eligible.
  7. Respect confidentiality when requested by employee.
  8. Assist the agency head in selecting the appropriate Agency Evaluation Committee to evaluate the employee suggestion. The employee suggestion will be forwarded to the Agency Evaluation Committee Leader.
  9. Contact all Agency Evaluation Committee members and schedule a date, time, and location for the employee suggestion evaluation.
  10. Contact the employee by letter with date, time, and location of employee suggestion evaluation.  The employee can speak on behalf of the suggestion for specific time allotted.
  11. Ensure all employee suggestions receive fair, adequate, and timely evaluation.  Evaluations must be completed within 60 days.
  12. Forward employee suggestions to the Agency Evaluation Committee Leader.
  13. Assist the Agency Evaluation Committee Leader in seeking employee suggestion clarification, if needed.
  14. Contact the Agency Evaluation Committee Leader if a backlog occurs to discuss the delay and how to assist in moving the process along.
  15. After the Agency Evaluation Committee makes a recommendation, forward the suggestion to the Agency Head to concur or not concur with the Agency Evaluation Committee’s recommendation and comment on the decision.
  16. Forward employee suggestions and recommendations to the BHR Administrator for Board review.  The Employee Suggestion Award Program Review Board will make the final decision on the recommendation and will determine the award.
  17. Forward adopted employee suggestions to the Agency Coordinator for submission to the Agency Head for implementation.
  18. Assist the Agency Head in determining the implementation date of an adopted employee suggestion.  The full or partial monetary award will be paid upon implementation of the employee suggestion.  Partial monetary cost savings awards will receive a full award after the cost savings period is complete, usually after one year.
  19. Arrange presentation of the adopted employee suggestion award.

      F. Agency Evaluation Committee

Each employee suggestion will be assigned an appropriate Agency Evaluation Committee to evaluate the employee suggestion.  The Agency Evaluation Committees will include an odd number of members including, but not limited to, one member appointed by each of the agency bargaining units which would be affected if the suggested were adopted; one member who has experience or expertise in the subject matter, appointed by the Agency Head; and at least one additional member, appointed by the Agency Head. 

            1. The Agency Evaluation Committee Leader will:

  1. Review the employee suggestion prior to the evaluation and determine if any additional information is needed.
  2. Address concerns and request additional information, if needed.
  3. Collect employee suggestion evaluation forms and documentation.
  4. Return employee suggestion, documentation, and recommendation to Agency Coordinator.

            2. The Agency Evaluation Committee will:

  1. Review the employee suggestion with the employee.
  2. Be assigned a leader to oversee Agency Evaluation Committee activities.
  3. Analyze the feasibility of the employee suggestion.
  4. Calculate costs savings or efficiency recommendations.
  5. Evaluate and make recommendations on all eligible employee suggestions.

            3. Assessing the Practicality of the Proposed Employee Suggestion

  1. Is the employee suggestion possible?
  2. Is the employee suggestion reasonable?
  3. Is the employee suggestion timely?
  4. Is the employee suggestion cost effective?
  5. Is the employee suggestion already implemented?
  6. Is the employee suggestion already under active consideration?
  7. Will the adoption and/or implementation of the employee suggestion require legislation?
  8. Can the employee suggestion be partially adopted?

            4. Reviewing the Proposed Employee Suggestion

  1. The Agency Evaluation Committee will listen to the employee suggestion presentation, if requested by the employee and/or the Agency Evaluation Committee.
  2. The Agency Evaluation Committee will complete a summary employee suggestion form and award recommendation for each employee suggestion, within the 60-day evaluation deadline.
  3. The Agency Evaluation Committee Leader will return all employee suggestions and documents to the Agency Coordinator with the Agency Evaluation Committee’s recommendation.

      H. Employee Suggestion Award System Board

The Board is responsible for making the final decision on the employee suggestion recommendation and will determine the award.  The Board consists of the Commissioner of Administrative and Financial Services and two other departmental commissioners appointed by the Governor.

            1. The Employee Suggestion Award Program Review Board will:

  1. Appoint a chairperson, annually.
  2. Review all employee suggestions.
  3. Request employee attendance, if needed.
  4. Request agencies to track the cost savings for a period of time, if needed.
  5. Determine all monetary or efficiency cost savings awards.
  6. Return all employee suggestions and documentation to the BHR State Administrator.

IV. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

      A. Employee Participation

  1. The employee will generally be granted administrative leave and travel reimbursement to present his/her suggestion to an Agency Evaluation Committee during normal scheduled work hours.  Every attempt will be made to schedule Committee meetings on the employee’s scheduled workday.  Employee participation in the agency evaluation process may be accomplished by way of audio/video phone as circumstances may require.
  2. The employee may also be granted administrative leave and travel reimbursement to present his/her suggestion to the Employee Suggestion Award Program Review Board only if specifically requested by the Board.  Employee participation in the Board’s evaluation process may be accomplished by way of audio/video phone as circumstances may require.
  3. The employee may work on the suggestion during work time as long as it does not interfere with his/her job responsibilities.

      B. Employee Notifications

  1. The employee will receive an initial letter stating whether the suggestion is eligible or ineligible from the Bureau of Human Resources.  If the suggestion is not eligible, it will be returned to the employee with an explanation of ineligibility.
  2. The employee will receive a letter from the agency that will be reviewing the suggestion.  The letter will indicate the date, time, and location of the suggestion review.  If the agency determines the suggestion is not eligible for an award, the suggestion will be returned to the employee with an explanation of ineligibility.
  3. The employee will receive a final determination letter from the Bureau of Human Resources on the Employee Suggestion Award Program Review Board decision.

      C. Cost Savings Tracking

  1. The Board will determine the cost identification formula to use for tracking cost savings.
  2. Cost savings must be monitored and recorded for one year.  This process is initiated when the employee suggestion is implemented.
  3. In accordance with MRSA Title 5, Chapter 56-A, §651, §9, (http://janus.state.me.us/legis/statutes/5/title5ch56-Asec0.html) any department or other organization will provide whatever assistance is requested for evaluating employee suggestions and/or other purposes.

      D. Evaluation Process Deadlines

  1. The entire evaluation process will be completed within 120 days, which begins with a monthly report sent to all agencies by the BHR State Administrator.
  2. The Agency Evaluation Committee will evaluate and make recommendations on the employee suggestions within 60 days.
  3. The Board may, at its discretion, expand the established time lines to accommodate an inordinate volume of suggestions or for other unanticipated exigencies.

 

       E. Payment of Cost Savings Awards

  1. The maximum cash award is 10 percent of the first year’s estimated savings of $250 or more.  The award will not exceed $2,000.  If it is not possible to estimate the first year’s savings, the Employee Suggestion Award Program Review Board may authorize an alternative payment process.  Balance of partial cost savings awards will be made at the end of the first year of implementation.
  2. Employee suggestions that do not result in a measurable cost savings, but improve morale, efficiency, or customer service can result in earning a cash award of at least $25, and up to $100.

Summary

The State of Maine is committed to improving State Government to better serve all its citizens.  The Employee Suggestion Awards Program is a unique program designed to do this by encouraging employee suggestions and/or recommendations from those who often know state operations best – its employees.  By participating, employees not only have a chance to share their unique, creative ideas for improving government, they can also receive efficiency and/or cost savings awards for their efforts.

The State of Maine recognizes that the ideas of state employees are fundamental to the continuous improvement in services.  Critical to accomplishing the goal of continuous improvement are employee suggestions that improve customer service, reduce costs, and improve working conditions and/or streamline operations.

The Employee Suggestion Awards Program is designed to provide fair and equitable treatment of all employee suggestions at each step of the program.

DISCLAIMER OF RIGHTS

Adopted employee suggestions become the property of the State and the employee will make no claims against the State regardless of the use made of the suggestion by the State.