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3000 Appendix


State Management Personnel Manual

2650 Employee Suggestion Program


.110 Legal Background

.111 The New York State Employee Suggestion Program was established by action of the Legislature in 1946. Provisions of that legislation comprise Sections 145 and 146 of the Civil Service Law. The New York State Program is the oldest such state program in the country.

.112 In addition to the Civil Service Law, specific provisions pertaining to the operation of the Suggestion Program and to determination of and limitations on award amounts are found in Part 61 of the Commission's Regulations, §§61.1 through 61.6.


.210 Purpose

.211 The purpose of the Employee Suggestion Program is to encourage State employees and retirees from State service, either individually or collectively, to share their constructive ideas in the form of suggestions, for improving State agency program operations, reducing State expenditures, and increasing productivity, and to reward such employees and retirees for those ideas which are put into use by one or more State agencies. In addition, Meritorious Service Awards are granted under the Program to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of State employees (see .230, below).

.220 Merit Awards - Suggestions

.221 To be eligible for Merit Award consideration, suggestions must be original (i.e., must not substantially duplicate suggestions previously submitted by other employees or ideas already in use by the agencies to which they are referred for evaluation) and must directly contribute to economy or efficiency, or directly increase effectiveness in the performance of a function of our State government.

.222 Merit awards are granted by the Civil Service Commission to employees or retirees whose suggestions are adopted, based upon recommendations made by evaluators in the departments where the suggestions are used. Awards are granted in the form of a Certificate of Merit and may also include cash or token awards as determined by the Civil Service Commission, and are granted for ideas resulting in either tangible or intangible benefits to the State. When an award is recommended, consideration is given to estimated net first-year savings along with the nature of the proposal, the extent of application, originality, initiative and effort involved. No award is granted unless the suggestion is actually implemented.

.223 For suggestions which will result in tangible benefits, any cash award is normally based on a reasonable estimate of the net savings resulting from the first full year of operation following implementation. For Merit Awards based solely on tangible benefits, the amount of the award is limited to 10 percent of net first year savings. When these savings benefits are $1,000 or less, the entire award is normally paid by the Department of Civil Service on implementation of the suggestion. When the savings or benefit is expected to exceed $1,000, an initial award of $100 or more may be paid to the suggester at the time the idea is put into effect. The first $100 is normally paid by the Department of Civil Service, with the benefiting agency paying any award above this amount. After the suggestion has been in use for a full year and an audit of actual net first-year savings has been made, the balance of any award due is paid by the benefiting agency. The Suggestion Program Office is responsible for follow-up if a supplemental award is to be paid.

.224 A cash award may also be granted for a suggestion which does not lend itself to appraisal on the basis of monetary benefits. The amount of the award is based on the benefiting agency's assessment of the suggestion's worth or benefit to State operations.

.225 A cash award may also be granted for a suggestion which results in combined tangible and intangible benefits to the State. The amount of any such award is normally determined by adding the amount that would be appropriate based on intangible benefits to the award amount due as a result of tangible benefits.

.226 The maximum award payable for adopted suggestions that result in tangible savings or benefit to the State is $50,000; the maximum award for adopted suggestions that result solely in intangible benefit is $5,000; the maximum award payable for adopted suggestions that result in combined tangible and intangible benefits is $50,000 although the cash awards in such cases may effectively exceed 10 percent of net first-year savings. The minimum cash award, where any cash award is to be granted, is $25, irrespective of the nature of the benefit upon which such award is based. In the case of awards in excess of $10,000, the Civil Service Commission may permit the adopting agency to pay the award in equal installments over a period not to exceed five years.

.230 Merit Awards - Accomplishment

.231 In addition to awards granted for suggestions which are judged of significant value and put into effect, awards may be granted for meritorious or unusual accomplishment. Nominations on behalf of an employee for such an award are submitted by a person having knowledge of the circumstances, usually the employee's supervisor. The nomination must show how the accomplishment was "above and beyond," or completely outside, the scope of the nominee's job responsibilities. This is not an award for sustained superior performance.

.240 Promotion of the Program

.241 Given the benefits to the State and its employees resulting from the employees' active participation in the Suggestion Program, Personnel Offices are urged to encourage and fully support such employee participation. To assist in this effort, suggestion forms and copies of the Questions and Answers About the New York State Employee Suggestion Program brochure (see following pages) should be made readily available to employees by the Personnel Offices and throughout all agency locations. Personnel Offices may obtain supplies of these materials from their agency Suggestion Committee representatives or directly from the Suggestion Program Office.


.410 Submission of Suggestions

.411 Employee suggestions are submitted on Form ESP-607 provided or authorized by the Employee Suggestion Program. To ensure their appropriate review, suggestions are submitted, in duplicate, directly to the Employee Suggestion Program in the Department of Civil Service. Duplicates of all attachments, drawings, photographs, and, where possible, samples are provided with each suggestion submission. Although some agency Suggestion Committees may properly encourage employees to submit copies of their suggestions to the Committee at the same time that they send them to the Department of Civil Service, this is not a requirement for suggestions to be considered. Employees who wish to have their ideas evaluated through the State Employee Suggestion Program should not, however submit their suggestions through their agency Suggestion Committees instead of to the Department of Civil Service.

.412 Suggestions must be signed and must show all requested identifying information, including the employee's official job title and complete work address. Where two or more employees are participating in submitting a suggestion, the appropriate job title and work address information, together with the employee's signature, must be provided for each suggester on a separate sheet of paper.

.413 When suggestions are received in the Suggestion Program Office, they are logged in, reviewed for completeness and eligibility, checked to ensure that they do not duplicate previously submitted suggestions (duplicate or non-original ideas are ineligible for award consideration) and then forwarded to the applicable Departmental Committee(s) for evaluation.

.414 Suggestions that are accepted and referred for evaluation are assigned suggestion numbers and the suggesters are notified by mail of the number assigned. Suggestions that are either ineligible or are not original are not assigned suggestion numbers. In such case, the suggesters are, however, notified by mail why their suggestions could not be accepted.

.420 Suggestion Committees

.421 Each participating department or agency has a Suggestion Committee normally consisting of from two to nine members. Committee members are appointed by the Civil Service Commission from among employees nominated by the agency head. The Committees are responsible for ensuring the prompt investigation and appraisal of each suggestion referred to them, and for reporting the results of such appraisals to the Employee Suggestion Program Office in the Department of Civil Service.

.422 Suggestion Committee evaluations are transmitted to the Employee Suggestion Program Office on the "Departmental Suggestion Committee Evaluation Report," Form ESP-618 which, in the case of suggestion adoption, includes information detailing the date of the suggestion's implementation, nature and extent of the benefit resulting from use of the suggestion, including an estimate of net first year savings when the benefit is tangible in nature, and a recommendation of the award to be granted to the suggester(s). In the case of non-adoption of the suggestion, the Committee's evaluation report includes a narrative description of the reason(s) why the suggestion will not be used.

.430 Adoption/Rejection

.431 Upon receipt of the recommendations of the Departmental Committees, the Director of the Suggestion Program carefully reviews the reports and conducts any further investigation as necessary.

.432 If the suggestion is adopted, appropriate substantiating memoranda and other supporting materials, as appropriate, are prepared for review and final determination of any award by the Civil Service Commission.

.433 If the decision is made not to adopt a suggestion, the suggester is notified of the decision and the reasons therefor.

+     .440 Awards Process

.441 Following approval of merit awards by the Civil Service Commission, the Program Office arranges for preparation of Certificates of Merit (or Certificates of Meritorious Service) which are signed by members of the Commission.

.442 When a monetary award is in order, the Program Office requests, through the Department of Civil Service Payroll Office, a check for the entire amount of the award from the Office of the State Comptroller. Payment of the benefiting agency's portion of the award, if any, is charged against that agency's Merit Award Cost Center, established pursuant to the requirements of the Comptroller's Office. Appropriate taxes are withheld from all award checks.

.443 When the award checks, if any, have been received from the Office of the State Comptroller, the Program Office forwards all award materials to the appropriate agency Suggestion Committee(s) for presentation to the individual award recipients at suitable award ceremonies.

Questions and Answers about the New York State
Employee Suggestion Program

Q Who is eligible to participate in the Employee Suggestion Program?

All New York State employees, retirees, and employees on New York State preferred lists are eligible to submit suggestions.

Q. What type of ideas are eligible for Consideration?

Eligible ideas include, but are not limited to, the examples identified in the listing below. Generally, eligible ideas are those which:

  • directly contribute to economy or efficiency;
  • directly increase effectiveness in the performance of a function of State government;
  • improve office procedures, forms, or methods;
  • save time and materials;
  • consolidate operations and/or forms: and
  • propose new ways to reduce costs, eliminate delays, or improve service or effectiveness.

Q. Is my suggestion eligible for award consideration if it is related to my job duties and responsibilities?

Yes, suggestions determined to be job-related may be eligible for award consideration at a reduced rate, based on the extent of which the suggestion is related to the suggester's actual job duties.

Q. What types of ideas are ineligible for consideration?

Ineligible ideas include, but are not limited to, the examples identified in the listing below. Generally, ineligible ideas are those which:

  • have already been made and awarded or are already in use or under consideration;
  • propose salary/classification/benefit changes;
  • propose matters subject to the collective bargaining process;
  • relate to normally accepted safety practices;
  • impose new or additional taxes or fees for revenue, as opposed to cost recovery purposes;
  • correct obvious or manifest errors;
  • enforce existing laws, rules or regulations;
  • propose the acquisition of private property for public purposes; and involve complaints or grievances.

Q. When should I submit my suggestion?

You should submit your suggestion as soon as possible after you have developed your idea. Suggestion Program rules require that credit be given to the first person who submits a suggestion which successfully addresses a particular idea.

Q. How do I submit my suggestion?

Ideas considered through the New York State Employee Suggestion Program may be submitted to:

Employee Suggestion Program
New York State Department of Civil Service
The State Campus
Alfred E. Smith State Office Building
Albany, NY 12239

It is the policy of the New York State Department of Civil Service to provide qualified persons with disabilities, reasonable accommodations necessary to participate in its programs. If you need an accommodation to complete the suggestion form, please contact the Suggestion Program at (518) 457-8072.

Q. How will I know if the Suggestion Program office has received my suggestion?

The employee completes the suggestion form, ESP-607 and submits it to the New York State Department of Civil Service Employee Suggestion Program. An acknowledgement is sent to the suggester within 24 hours indicating the assigned suggestion number and date of receipt.

Q. Can suggestions be jointly submitted by employees?

Yes, joint suggestions must be signed by all suggesters and include all appropriate information for each suggester. Any award will be divided equally among the suggesters.

Q. Can suggestions be jointly submitted by employees?

Yes, joint suggestions must be signed by all suggesters and include all appropriate information for each suggester. Any award will be divided equally among the suggesters.

Q. May I submit a suggestion that concerns an agency other than the one by which I am employed?

Yes, but certain State units, such as the New York State Thruway Authority, the New York State Dormitory Authority and the Office of Court Administration do not participate in this Suggestion Program. Suggestions pertaining to the operations of these units are not eligible.

Q. Who will evaluate my suggestion?

Each participating agency has its own Suggestion Committee, which refers suggestions to the appropriate program area for evaluation. The Committee reviews the program area's evaluation and forwards its recommendation to the New York State Suggestion Program.

Q. How long will it take the Suggestion Committee to evaluate my suggestion?

Agency Suggestion Review Committees have a 45-day period to evaluate a suggestion. Agencies may require additional time to complete the evaluation.

Q. How will I know whether my idea has or has not been approved?

You will be notified by the Suggestion Program Office.

Q. What if my suggestion is disapproved but is later put into effect?

Suggestions which are not adopted remain active for an equity period of two years following notice of disapproval. During this time, no one will be eligible to submit your ideas as their suggestion. If your suggestion is implemented within this two-year equity period, please notify the Suggestion Program so the appropriate action can be taken.

Q. If my suggestion is adopted, what kind of award will I receive?

All suggesters whose ideas are approved and put into effect will receive a Certificate of Merit signed by the members of the Civil Service Commission. Suggestions that result in tangible benefits (total gross savings reported during the first year of the suggestion's use) may be eligible for up to 10% of the net first year savings or 10% of other financial benefit to the State, up to a maximum of $50,000. Suggestions that result in intangible benefits (those which are primarily non-monetary in nature or which do not lend themselves to monetary appraisal) may be eligible for an award up to a maximum of $5,000.

Q. If I receive a monetary award for my suggestion, is the award taxable?

Yes, all monetary merit awards granted under the Employee Suggestion Program are taxable.

Q. What factors are considered in determining the award amount?

In addition to actual monetary savings or other tangible or intangible benefits resulting from implementation of a suggestion, the NYS Civil Service Commission may consider any of the following factors:

  • Nature of the idea
  • Its originality
  • Extent of use
  • Effectiveness
  • Ingenuity
  • Effort involved
  • Importance of the operation affected
  • Relationship of the idea to the suggester's job duties and responsibilities

Q. Whom may I contact for additional information?

Phone: 518-457-9375

TM-52, Replacing parts of TM-41 - February 2002
TM-59, Replacing parts of TM-52 - July, 2007
TM-61, Updating Q & A's - August, 2007

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