During a recent quarterly meeting of the Alabama Employees’ Suggestion Incentive Board, members reviewed just three cost-saving suggestions from state employees, but approved none.
Launched in 2014, the Suggestion Incentive program offers state employees up to $5,000 as a reward for submitting suggestions that could save their agency money in operating costs. Yet despite the state of Alabama employing nearly 400,000 people as of August, the amount of suggestions is often slim.
Doryan Carlton, board member and state budget officer, is hoping to see the number of suggestions increase dramatically.
“Send us your suggestions and we’ll review them; we honestly get excited when we get a good suggestion,” Carlton told Alabama Daily News in an open plea to all state employees.
“It opens up an opportunity for you to have a conversation with the leadership in your agency, and it’s just a great opportunity. And there’s nothing better than giving somebody a check.”
State employees that submit a suggestion that is determined to provide a significant cost savings to their agency are eligible to receive a one-time payment of $1,000, and under an “exceptional situation,” may receive a one-time payment of $5,000. Suggestions must be approved by an employee’s department head, and be accompanied with a completed cost-savings estimate form.
“We’re eager to review and get suggestions, we wish we could have a higher volume of it,” said Lexi Solorio, another member of the board and legislative counsel for the Alabama Department of Personnel. “State government as a whole, we want to make it as good as possible.”
Carlton recalled one previous suggestion that netted an employee of the Alabama Alcohol Beverage Control Board a significant payout, in which the employee suggested changing the type of light bulb the agency used. That suggestion, Carlton said, saved the ABC $500,000.
“Sometimes people do come with really good ideas; there’s been a few IT things that agencies have (implemented) over the years that have saved substantial amounts of money,” Carlton told AND.
“I think the great thing about it is that there is an actual opportunity for employees to come up with ideas, and if we get one great one in a year, it’s worth it. It lets employees know that if they come up with a great idea, there could be a reward for them; not just the personal satisfaction of saving their agency money, but there could be a monetary reward.”
Employees interested in submitting their own cost-saving suggestions are required to fill out a cost-savings estimate form and submit it to the Employees’ Suggestion Incentive Board either in person or by mail to 64 N. Union Street, Suite 300 in Montgomery.
The Employees’ Suggestion Incentive Board is just one of many ways the state has tried to encourage government efficiency, with Gov. Kay Ivey issuing an executive order in March instructing all of the state’s executive branch agencies to cut 25% of their regulations by March of 2025.