EAST TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY
SUBJECT: State Employee
Suggestion Award Program
EMPLOYEE SUGGESTION AWARD PROGRAM
STATE OF TENNESSEE
Section 1. Scope and Purpose
These guidelines set forth the operating
procedures for administering the Employee Suggestion Award Program.
The program provides for cash or honorary awards for State
employees who submit ideas that will reduce the cost or improve the
quality of service of State government.
The Employee Suggestion Award Board shall
recognize employees who propose procedures or ideas which, when
put into practice, result in savings or improvements in State
Each agency head shall encourage eligible
employees to participate in the Employee Suggestion Award
The Employee Suggestion Award Board,
composed of the Commissioner of Finance and Administration, the
Commissioner of Human Resources, the Commissioner of General
Services, the Executive Director of the Fiscal Review
Committee, and one member appointed by the Tennessee State
Employees Association, shall administer and promote the Program
on a statewide basis. The Board shall approve each cash or
honorary award made to State employees pursuant to the
provisions of TCA 4-27-101 et seq.
The Employee Suggestion Award Program
1. Receive the suggestions at the Department of Human
Resources, 1st Floor, James K. Polk Building, 505 Deaderick
Street, Nashville, Tennessee 37243-0635.
2. Acknowledge the hour and date of receipt of suggestions and
keep suggestors informed of the status of their suggestions
throughout the evaluation process. If duplicate suggestions are
received, the one bearing the earliest hour and date of receipt
shall be eligible for consideration and all others shall be
3. Determine the eligibility of each suggestion.
4. Review each suggestion to determine if it is a duplicate of,
or similar to, a suggestion which has previously been submitted
5. Refer each eligible suggestion to appropriate agencies for
investigation and evaluation.
6. Maintain the following records:
a. Copies of
official actions and minutes of the meetings of the Review
Panel and Board.
b. All suggestions
received with supporting documents for a three-year period.
c. Cross reference
files on original suggestions by name of suggestor and subject
Section 3. Eligibility
: All employees of State government, except
elected and appointed officials, are eligible to submit
suggestions for cash awards under this program provided they do
not fall in any of the following categories:
1. The four levels of management which are prevented from
receiving cash awards, as defined by TCA 4-27-104 are as
a. Level I: Governor’s staff,
department commissioner or equivalent;
b. Level II: Assistant or deputy
commissioner, assistant to the commissioner, major fiscal and
administrative policy departmental staff or equivalent;
c. Level III: Director or division chief
including the full line division chief to a statewide program.
Includes chief of division supervising several line service
units or equivalent;
d. Level IV: Assistant to director or
division chief, section chief or head of major departmental
function or equivalent.
These employees listed above, although 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. Former State employees, unless retired from the State.
3. Persons who are dismissed from State service for cause.
4. Commissioned and non-commissioned officers and enlisted
personnel in the National Guard, and Federal employees under
the jurisdiction of the Adjutant General.
5. Members of State Boards and Commissions.
6. Employees or groups of employees who are assigned a
particular problem to solve are not eligible for an award if
the suggestion falls within the scope of the assignment.
7. Suggestions made by employees or groups of employees that
fall within the scope of their individual duties and
responsibilities are eligible for award provided the suggestion
is extraordinary and is not typically expected of that employee
in the normal course of his or her job.
8. Employees whose duties primarily concern administrative
planning, evaluation 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
receive an award only if the suggestion is clearly not part of
the employee’s normal duties or responsibilities. The
Board may consider extraordinary circumstances, those where
employees go far beyond what is reasonably expected in their
Suggestion Eligibility Criteria
: All suggestions are eligible for award
consideration except proposals to make a change which is under
active consideration by those responsible, and suggestions which
fail to present a positive, constructive concept for improvement.
Ineligible suggestions include, but are not limited to:
1. Those which involve personal grievances.
2. Those that recommend increased taxes or license fees.
3. Those which recommend a change to the State
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
6. Those which correct a condition that exists only because
established procedure or policy is not being followed, except
when correcting an oversight results in saving substantial money
or in significant improvement in the efficiency of an operation.
7. Those which correct a temporary problem, one that management
can document is in the process of being corrected.
8. Those which are the result of assigned or contracted audits,
studies, surveys, reviews, or research.
9. Those which, if adopted, will not:
a) Improve methods or procedures;
b) Eliminate “bottlenecks” or
duplication of work;
c) Reduce costs, waste, errors;
d) Increase production, efficiency, service;
e) Save lives, time, money.
10. Those which involve forms will be eligible for consideration
only if the suggestion reduced the total number of forms required
(including the number of the same form used), and if such
reduction does not conflict with established regulations.
11. Those which recommend a change in agency missions, program
goals, or organizational objectives.
12. Those which save money for one governmental agency at the
expense of another agency of the State of Tennessee or of its
13. Those for which the cost of implementation exceeds the
estimated savings, unless the quality or effectiveness of the
solution is considered great enough to offset or justify the
14. Suggestions involving the acquisition of funding from grants
may be considered for award when:
a) Eligibility for the award is not based on
the replacement of State dollars by grant funds, but on the
reduction of overall expenditures as a result of implementing a
b) The grant is pursued outside established
procedures used in the Department of Finance and Administration
for soliciting funds; and
c) It meets all other eligibility criteria.
15. Those which recommend a change within a department that can
be documented as already being a written directive by management,
except when implementation occurs as a result of the suggestion
and no department-wide directive is in place.
Section 4. Group
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 had 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.
Section 5. Time Limit on Award
An employee’s rights to an award
shall be based on employment status at the time the suggestion
is submitted and shall be protected if:
The suggestion is adopted and/or
implemented within two years from the date of receipt even
though the employee may have separated from State
government, unless dismissed for cause. The Employee
Suggestion Award Board
must be notified the suggestion
An agency implements the suggestion
within two years of the date of the original notification
of non-adoption even though the employee may be separated
from State government in good standing at the time of
implementation. A declined suggestion will retain priority
over all suggestions on the same subject received within
two years from the date of declining the first
suggestion. The Employee Suggestion Award Board
must be notified the suggestion
Suggestions denied for award by the Board
may be resubmitted once within a one-year period if
accompanied by substantial additional information that would
add merit to the suggestion. If resubmission results in a
second denial, the suggestion shall be deemed permanently
denied and may not be resubmitted.
Suggestions that are not resubmitted shall be deemed
permanently denied after the passage of one year and will not
be reconsidered by the Board.
In the case of a deceased employee, the
award shall be paid to the employee’s estate.
Ideas already adopted and/or implemented
by management, as a result of the employee’s suggestion
must be filed with the Employee Suggestion Award Program no
later than nine months from initial acceptance.
Section 6. Payment of
The maximum cash award for approved suggestions after March 4,
2004 shall be limited to ten (10%) percent of the first
year’s estimated net savings, or $10,000, whichever is
less. Suggestions recommended for a cash award that have a first
year’s estimated savings of less than $250 will be awarded
$25. The Employee Suggestion Award Board may, however, increase
the maximum amount of the award for suggestions which result in
extraordinary amounts of savings. Any cash awards approved by the
Board shall be charged against the appropriation item or items to
which estimated savings apply.
To obtain forms and further instructions for
submitting suggestions through this award program, visit the
State of Tennessee Department of Human Resources at:
; or contact the ETSU Office of Human Resources.
Source: Public Acts 1977, ch. 212; Public Acts 1987, ch.
Operating Procedures Employee Suggestion Award
, State of Tennessee Department of Human Resources, 2005.
Top of Page