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Board Meeting - September 21, 1999

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Meeting Summary - Employee Suggestion Board
September 21, 1999

10:00 am - 12:00 noon
DER, 345 W. Washington Ave., Madison, WI


Board Members: James Behrend, Chair; Roger Cross, Member

DER Staff: Peter Fox, Secretary (portion of meeting); Bob Van Hoesen; Robert Toomey

UW-Platteville Design Studio:

Paul Shecter, Professor
Jeff Brown
Derek Carpenter
Shann Deprey
Kathy Ebben
Nathan Maxwell
Miriam Schroeder

Agency Suggestion Program Coordinators:

Blinda Beason, DOT
Donna Boutelle, SPD
Valerie Clemen, DOA
Betty Duesterhoeft, DRL
Nancy Ketterhagen, DETF
Virginia Maly, DPI
Marjorie McCormick, DOT
Craig Scott, DOR
Patti Swanson, DMA

SPECIAL PRESENTATION: What Makes A Successful Employee Suggestion Program

This meeting began with a special presentation by the Department of Transportation (DOT) on its internal suggestion program (STAR) which is successfully linked to the state-level program administered by the State Employee Suggestion Board. Blinda Beason (DOT/State Patrol) and Marjorie McCormick (DOT/Motor Vehicles) spoke on the topic of "What Makes A Successful Employee Suggestion Program."

The DOT agency-level employee suggestion program is called STAR, for Successful Thoughts Are Rewarding. STAR was begun in September 1997. Prior to that, each DOT division had its own program. The STAR program is based on quality leadership, and its objective is to encourage, support, and implement ideas in the spirit of continuous improvement. DOT measures how it does business, and also wants to increase employee satisfaction in his or her job. Elements of the success of the STAR program include:

  • Employee Involvement and Excitement
  • Senior Management Support
  • Employees look for support from above
  • Employees know that DOT will listen
  • The program is supported, and sponsored, by Division Administrators and Office Directors
  • Any and all ideas are welcome

The Department has a STAR committee with 7 members representing each division, plus the executive (Secretary's) office. Membership is staggered in two-year increments. Budget review is provided by the appropriate division. The Secretary's Office supports the program wholeheartedly. DOT advertises the STAR program in many ways:

  • intranet (DOTNET) web page
  • suggestion form is on-line
  • form is included within the paper brochure
  • "Lobby Day" at Hill Farms State Office Building -- photos of suggesters; video on loop; samples/trinkets; "fishbowl" for business cards; gifts
  • Articles in DOT newsletter
  • Annual STAR award ceremony at DOT -- photos, visibility

DOT gives non-cash awards including a choice of items with the STAR logo -- sweatshirts, coffee mugs, portfolios, and umbrellas. Their goal is to add one gift item a year. Other token gifts include flashlights, markers, tape measures, notepads, and pens. Award-winners at the annual DOT ceremony also receive a STAR plaque signed by the Department Secretary.

DOT is also developing an on-line system in which awards may be submitted either by Inter-D mail or to an electronic In-Box. Suggestions received are routed to an Evaluation Committee which reviews suggestions in terms of feasibility and savings (money/time) and rejects or accepts them. Employees whose suggestions are rejected receive a letter with a blank suggestion form to encourage them to submit suggestions in the future. Employees whose suggestions are accepted receive a congratulatory letter and a gift. Accepted suggestions are also forwarded to the State Board with an agency recommendation for a certificate and, when appropriate, a cash award.

Budget for the DOT suggestion program (STAR) is funded by the DOT Secretary's Office. Staff Time devoted to the STAR program by Division coordinators is up to 10-20 percent of the employee's job. The STAR Department-level coordinator gives about 25% of her time to the program. DOT takes a team approach to its STAR program, with each division having a backup program coordinator.

The STAR program is also enhanced by printed materials including a poster, brochure, forms, letterhead; a video produced by DOT; a digital camera for award ceremonies; and food (treats) during special occasions.

DOT has successfully linked the STAR program with the state-level Suggestion Program. Since 1997, when the DOT agency-level STAR program began, the department has received 240 employee suggestions. Of those, 70 have been accepted and forwarded to the State Employee Suggestion Board for review, certificates, and possible cash awards by the state Board.

While DOT is one of the largest state agencies, some of the same concepts used in the STAR program could still apply to the development of a successful internal agency-level employee suggestion program in medium and small agencies.


The board reviewed and decided on the following employee suggestions.

SESP Number Employee Name Agency Suggestion Summary Board Decision
(all receive Certificate)
FY00-1 Karen Roberts DOT/DMV Issue DMV skill test guide in Spanish; improved customer service Certificate
FY00-2 Dorothy Frankey & Laurie Terwilliger DOT/DMV Eliminate paying extra postage ($0.06 per envelope) for a service which the U.S. Post Office now provides when paying the lower rate. Estimated savings: $47,500 Certificates and $80.00 cash award each
FY00-3 Gary Dikkers DOT/DTID Promote STAR program in DOT weekly bulletin Certificate
FY00-4 Carolyn Hackler DOT/DMV Data entry improvement to save employee keystrokes when doing a procedure Certificate
FY00-5 Larry Lawniczak & Ron Neuman UW-Oshkosh Affix food-safe teflon valve seat with stainless steel screws as an inexpensive, durable alternative to the much more costly solution of replacing valves on steam kettles; savings per valve = $515.00 (4 "new-idea" valves in operation) Certificates and $25.00 cash award each
FY00-6 Ronald Diehl DETF Reduce number of employee folders for filing of health plan reports to 1 folder per employer per year rather than 1 per month; savings in time and space = $1,155.00 over 5 years Certificate


The Board decided to holds its annual Awards Ceremony at the State Capitol on November 17, 1999. Annual awards will be presented to:

Carolyn Hackler and Helen Cleveland
(both DOT)
Individual Suggester of the Year (tie)
Wendy Ziegler, Nancy Liegel, Debbie Kraemer, Laurie Wolter, Marjorie Uphoff, Roger Tesch, and Rick Kleist, all of DOT Group Suggester of the Year
Sandra Marr, DOT Division of Transportation Districts Agency Coordinator of the Year
Department of Transportation (DOT) Agency of the Year

With there being no other business, the board concluded its meeting.

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Last Modified:  4/23/2007 11:20:46 AM
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