This page contains older information about the State Employee Suggestion Program and Employee Suggestion Board, formerly known as the Merit Award Board. (For more current information, please view other pages at this web site, such as Regular Awards and Meeting Summaries, both of which are from 1997 onward, and Annual Awards summaries for most years from 1977 onward.)
The State Employee Suggestion Program began in 1954. Until the 1980s, the Employee Suggestion Board was known as the Merit Award Board.
COST SAVINGS: A review of records shows that since the program's inception in 1954, the program has reaped, at minimum, nearly $13 million in annual savings for the State of Wisconsin: In fiscal years 1954 through 1988, the cumulative sum of annual savings for suggestions during that timeframe was $8.9 million. For fiscal years 1996 through 2010, cumulative annual savings totaled nearly $3.1 million, as of July 2010. (Figures for fiscal years 1989 through 1995 are not available, but if savings for those years are comparable to recent years, cost savings during this period would come to an additional $1 million.)
The cost savings mentioned above reflect only annual savings for each suggestion. Since many, if not most, cost-saving suggestions result in savings beyond just one year, the savings reaped from employee suggestions since 1954 is likely much more than $13 million. (For example, if annual cost savings for each suggestion are totaled over 5 years, total savings would be $65 million under that scenario.)
Many suggestions did not result in tangible cost savings, but resulted in other benefits such as improved customer service, process improvements, intangible health/safety benefits, etc.
The State Employee Suggestion Program's annual operating budget has never been more than $7,000 per year.
HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS: A search in February 2006 conducted at the State Historical Society unearthed the following documents, which -- except for annual Wisconsin Blue Book information -- are the only available records of the State Employee Suggestion Program prior to 1996. (There are no records at the State Records Center as of Feb. 2006.)
* Annual Reports of the State Employee Suggestion Board (formerly known as the Merit Award Board):
- Fiscal Years 1972 through 1977 (16 pages, PDF file, 1.42mb)
- Fiscal Years 1978 through 1980 (6 pages, PDF file, 807kb)
- Fiscal Years 1981 through 1983 (5 pages, PDF file, 1.30mb)
- Fiscal Years 1986 through 1988 (14 pages, PDF file, 1.30mb)
No annual reports are available prior to fiscal year 1972, or for FYs 1984 and 1985. Also: Annual reports for 1989 onward are likely contained within the Biennial Reports of the Dept. of Employment Relations (DER), now known as OSER. Click here for OSER biennial reports for 1997-2007.
* Minutes of the June 24, 1971 Merit Award Board meeting (4 pages, PDF file, 193kb). These are the only available meeting minutes from Board meetings prior to 1996.
* Original program proposal, January 1954, State Bureau of Personnel (13 pages, PDF file, 1.14mb) -- includes organizational makeup, rules/regulations, and operational procedures. Please note: Rules, procedures, etc., have changed over the years since these publications were issued.
* Original Brochure, March 1954 (3 pages, PDF file, 1.14mb)
* Below is the text of the 1954 Blue Book entry:
Merit Award Board
The Merit Award Board was created within the Bureau of Personnel by Chapter 278, Laws of 1953. The purpose of this board is to encourage and reward unusual and meritorious suggestions and accomplishments by state employes promoting efficiency and economy in the functions of state government. The board is empowered to make awards of cash, certificates, medals and other appropriate means. The 3 board members are appointed by the Governor for 3-year terms. The first appointments were: Volmer Sorensen, director of personnel; John Tramburg, director, Department of Public Welfare; and Robert Siff, director, division of departmental research.