Guidance Letter G-030


SUBJECT:  Tennessee Employee Suggestion Award Program

  1. General
    Chapter 212, Tennessee Public Acts 1977, established an Employee Suggestion Program which provides for cash awards, as well as honorary awards to eligible employees.
    Copies of forms for submitting suggestions are available in the college's Institutional Planning and Research Office.
    Employees having questions about the program should contact the Institutional Planning and Research Office.
  2. Scope and Purpose
    This section sets forth the rules and regulations for administration of the program for cash or honorary awards for State employees for new, original, and preferably, innovative suggestions which present a positive concept for improvement of State government.
  3. Statement of Policy
    1. The Employee Suggestion Award Board shall recognize those employees who propose procedures or ideas which will result in substantial savings or improvements in State operations, provided such proposals are placed in effect.
    2. Each agency head shall encourage eligible employees to participate in the Employee Suggestion Award Program.
    3. The Employee Suggestion Award Board, composed of the Commissioner of Finance and Administration, the Commissioner of the Department of Personnel, the Chairman of the Fiscal Review Committee, the Chairman of the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee, the Chairman of the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee, and one member appointed by the Tennessee State Employees Association, shall:
      1. Administer and promote the Employee Suggestion Award Program on a Statewide basis,
      2. Shall receive the suggestions at the office of the Fiscal Review Committee.
      3. Shall acknowledge the hour and date of receipt of suggestions and keep suggestions informed as to the status of their suggestions throughout the evaluation process.  If duplicate suggestions are received, the one bearing the earlier hour and date of receipt shall be eligible for consideration and all others shall be ineligible.
      4. May refer each eligible suggestion to agencies concerned for investigation and evaluation.
      5. Shall determine the eligibility of each suggestion.
      6. Shall review each suggestion to determine if it is a duplicate of, or similar to, a suggestion which has previously been made or adopted.
      7. Shall maintain the following records:
        1. Copies of official actions and minutes of the meetings of the Board.
        2. All suggestions received with supporting documents for a three-year period.
        3. Cross-reference files on original suggestions by name of suggestor and subject to suggestion.
      8. Shall approve each cash or honorary award made to State employees pursuant to the provisions of this chapter.
  4. Employees and Suggestions Not Eligible
    1. Employee Eligibility - Most employees of State government except elected and appointed officials, are eligible to submit suggestions for cash awards under this program so long as they do not fall in any of the following criteria:
      1. Do not fall in the four levels of management which are prevented from participating by Chapter 212, Public Acts of 1977, as follows:
        1. Level I - Governor's Staff, Department Commissioner or equivalent.
        2. Level II - Assistant or Deputy Commissioner, Assistant to Commissioner, Major Fiscal and Administrative Policy Departmental Staff or equivalent.
        3. Level III  - Director or Division Chief including the full-time Division Chief to a Statewide program.  Includes Chief of Division supervising several line service units or equivalent.
        4. Level IV - Assistant to Director or Division Chief, Section Chief or head of major departmental function or equivalent.
          Those employees ineligible for a monetary award, by the provisions of this section, will be eligible for an honorary award at the discretion of the Board.
      2. Temporary, Emergency and Contractual employees are ineligible for participation or claim.
      3. Former and Retired State employees are ineligible for participation or claim, except as provided in Section 5.
      4. Persons who are dismissed from State service for cause are ineligible to receive awards.
      5. Commissioned and non-commissioned officers and enlisted personnel in the National Guard, and Federal employees under the jurisdiction of the Adjutant General are ineligible for participation or claim.
      6. Members of State boards or commissions are ineligible for participation or claim.
      7. Employees whose duties concern administrative planning and research, or whose duties include the making of suggestions, or who are expected, as a part of their job, to produce ideas for improvement and act upon them may not submit suggestions related to their duties.
      8. Employees who are assigned a particular problem to solve or improve that is within the scope of their duties and responsibilities are not eligible for award for any improvement developed as a result of that assignment.
      9. Employees serving on special committees are not eligible for award on suggestions falling within the scope of the committee's function.
      10. Members of Agency or State suggestion committees, or personnel assigned to assist and coordinate activities of such committees are ineligible for participation or claim.
    2. Suggestion Eligibility Criteria - Suggestions which are ineligible for award consideration include proposals to make a change which has already been under consideration by those responsible as well as suggestions which fail to present a positive, constructive concept for improvement.  Among such ineligible suggestions are:
      1. Those which involve personal grievances.
      2. Those which recommend increased taxes or license fees.
      3. Those which recommend a change in the pay or classification of a position or class.
      4. Those which recommend a "study," "survey," or "review" with the course of action to be taken in accordance with the findings.
      5. Those which do not propose a method or way to make the improvement.
      6. Those which correct a condition that exists only because established procedure or policy is not being followed.
      7. Those which are the result of assigned or contracted audits, studies, surveys, reviews, or research.
      8. Those which, if adopted, will not:
        1. Improve methods or procedures; or
        2. Eliminate "bottlenecks," duplication or work; or
        3. Reduce costs, waste, errors; or
        4. Increase production, efficiency, service; or
        5. Save lives, time, money.
  5. Group Suggestions
    The amount of an award for a suggestion made by a group of employees shall be determined on the same basis as if the suggestion has been submitted by one employee, and the amount awarded shall be divided equally among those employees making the suggestion. Members of the group shall be identified by name at the time the suggestion is submitted.
  6. Time Limit on Awards Consideration
    1. An employee's rights to an award shall be established based on employment status at the time the suggestion is submitted and shall be protected provided:
      1. The suggestion is adopted and implemented later by an agency within two years from the date of receipt, except when dismissed for cause, even though the employee may have separated from State government; or
      2. An agency adopts and implements the suggestion within one year from the date of its original notification of non-adoption, even though the employee may have separated from State government at the time the suggestion was later implemented; and
      3. The Employee Suggestion Award Board is notified that the suggestion was implemented.
    2. The Board will allow resubmission of suggestions.
    3. In the case of a deceased employee, the award shall be paid to the employee's estate.
  7.  Payment of Awards
    Awards shall be paid upon determination, by the Board, of the first year's estimated savings.
  8. Determination of Cash Awards Resulting in Savings
    The maximum cash award approved shall be limited to ten percent of the first year's estimated savings, or $2,000, whichever is less.  Any cash awards approved by the Board shall be charged against the appropriation item or items to which estimated savings apply.


Source:    TBR memorandum from the Chancellor dated June 2, 1979:  Paperwork Reduction and Simplification Act of 1976; TBR Guideline G-070         

Revised:  January 1, 1993