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Board Meeting - April 25, 2000 (and May 17 follow-up)

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Meeting Summary - Employee Suggestion Board
April 25, 2000
10:00 am - 12:00 noon
UW-Platteville, Ullsvik Center, Hickory St., Platteville, WI


Board Members:     Roger Cross, Member, Ken Berg, Member
DER Staff:    Janet Tidwell, Deputy Secretary; Robert Toomey, Statewide SESP Coordinator
UW-Platteville:   Rich Fujita, Public Relations; Charles Collins, Vice-Chancellor
UW-Platteville Design Studio:   Paul Shecter, Professor; Derek Carpenter; Shann Deprey; Kathy Ebben; Nathan Maxwell; Miriam Schroeder
Agency Suggestion Program Coordinators:   Owen Bradley, UW System Administration; Maura Ducharme, Transportation; Nancy Ketterhagen, Employe Trust Funds

FINAL PROJECT PRESENTATION:    The Design Studio (UW-Platteville)

This meeting began with a special presentation by marketing and design students from the University of Wisconsin - Platteville.   Starting in the Fall 1999 semester, the students have been working on a special project to assist the State Employee Suggestion Board in making the suggestion program more visible and attractive to state employees.  Their efforts previously included surveying agency and campus program coordinators.  An additional survey was done of employees who have submitted suggestions to the program.  The students also researched other states' employee suggestion programs.  The main areas recommended for improvement are Process, Promotion, and Recognition.


The team recommends a speedier review process for employee suggestions.  Survey results indicated that the average processing time was 6.5 months from the time the employee submitted the suggestion until notification of a final decision.  It was recommended that 2 to 3 months would be a more acceptable timeframe.  In order to accomplish this, the Board may have to meet more often, like every 2 months instead of every 3-4 months.

Employees also requested better communication of the status of the suggestion during the various stages in the review process.  This could be done by e-mail since the vast majority of state employees have e-mail accounts at work.  Employees indicated that if they received more communication in this area, they would be motivated to make more suggestions.  It was recommended that the employee receive updates when the suggestion is (1) received at the agency level, (2) reviewed/evaluated, (3) forwarded to the state-level Board with agency recommendation, (4) received by the Board, and (5) decided on by the Board.

It was also recommended that the annual savings threshold requiring review and sign-off by agency budget office be raised from $10,000 to $25,000.

Forms were recommended for redesign, including streamlining, simplification, and combining the suggestion form with the review/evaluator form (back-to-back).  E-mail address was added to the suggestion form.  The team also recommended that the evaluation process at the agency be limited to one evaluator instead of two persons.  The agency coordinator would still be responsible for reviewing the suggestion also, coordinating agency recommendation, completing the suggestion summary form, and forwarding the packet to the state Board.


The team designed and recommended that the Board use the following promotional materials:

  • A new symbol for the State Employee Suggestion Program.  Color scheme is red, gray, and black.  The tentative new logo includes the words "Power of Wisconsin Employees."   The key word is "power."   This logo and the color scheme would be incorporated into all promotional and other written materials for the program.

  • Brochure

  • Poster

  • Web site, with shorter URL address

  • Letterhead

A quarterly newsletter -- sent out by e-mail and included on the program web site -- was recommended as a way to reach a large audience, publicize the program, communicate news of suggested ideas and improvements which have been implemented, share solutions that may have statewide impact, and recognize the employees who have made contributions.  Additionally, agencies should make efforts to recognize their staff such as through articles in department newsletters and special agency awards ceremonies.  A one-time payroll stuffer will also be explored as a mass promotional method. 


The team recommended giving increased focus on employee recognition, in order to enhance the program beyond a "suggestion box" concept -- or what may be even seen as a complaint system.

There are many ways to recognize employees, including and beyond financial awards.  Nearly two-thirds of employees surveyed said they would still make suggestions if they did not receive a monetary reward.  The team recommended creating a new award package for the program, based on available money and employee interest.  This could include a period of "free parking," paid personal days, certificates, and a catalog of smaller prizes, in addition to the financial awards given by the state Board.  (Note:  A paid personal day would not likely be a feasible award for several reasons, particularly the state rules, contract provisions, and policies concerning leave time for state employees.   Because of the variety of parking arrangements in state agencies and statewide locations, a period of free parking would probably be better left to each agency to decide and administer.)


Board members, agency coordinators, and DER staff reacted positively to the team's presentation and commended the students for their efforts and hard work.  Two of the students will be graduating this May.  The team expressed a desire to continue to maintain a level of contact with the Board.    The Board members and DER staff agreed with this.

The Board received the team's recommendations and will meet soon to decide how to proceed on implementing some or all of the recommendations in the plan.   (See below.)


The Board reviewed and decided on the following employee suggestions.

SESP Number
Employee Name


Suggestion Summary
Board Decision (all receive Certificate)
FY00-10 Daniel P. Johnson DOA Mr. Johnson has saved the State of Wisconsin more than $18,000 in the past seven years of FAA certification by becoming certified to perform federally required aircraft altimeter/transponder certification and repairs every two years. He continues to save the state between $2000 and $3000 biennially by performing these inspections. Additional advantages of his certification are: reduced aircraft downtime, assurance that checks and tests are done properly and completely, and increased availability of aircrafts and pilots.

Annual Savings: varies. 5-Year Savings: $18,950.


Cash Award $150.00

FY00-11 Steven F. Schwartz DOT/DMV Revise the aging priority of image documents.

Improves service quality; no specific fiscal impact.

FY00-12 Felicia M. Davis DOT/DMV Revise license plate renewal postcards to show that a counter fee is needed when paying in person. Certificate
FY00-13 Victoria L. VanDeventer and Jennifer L. Olson DOT/DMV Use state court system's Internet site to investigate background checks instead of paying the Dept. of Justice.

Annual Savings: $1,800. 5-Year Savings: $9,000.

Certificate for each

Cash Award $90.00 ($45.00 each)

FY00-14 Nancy J. Passehl and Linda S. Mabie DOT/DMV Provide outreach information to young consumers purchasing a vehicle for the first time. Certificate for each
FY00-15 Debra A. Marsolek DOT/DMV Revise form MV-3117 for certificate of a lost license or ID card. Certificate
FY00-16 Carolyn Hackler DOT/DMV Cross-train unit workers on priority work packs. Certificate
FY00-17 Mary Pagliaro DOT/DMV Have a certified CPR person from each work area be in charge of keeping area's first aid kit supplied. Certificate
FY00-18 Steven Pfundtner UW-Green Bay Mr. Pfundtner identified that spray painting of doors created a safety and scheduling problem. He designed a device that reduces the number of people to move the doors and also decreases the chance of injury.

5-year savings: $2,568.75.   This suggestion could be implemented statewide.


Cash Award $25.00

FY00-19 Linda Magnuson Justice Replace "Next Day Mail" UPS service with "Next Day Ground" UPS service which will achieve the same mailing results at a 75% savings in costs. The use of free UPS software and low-cost label printer will result in additional savings in secretarial time.

Annual Savings: $7,900.00  This suggestion could be implemented statewide.


Cash Award $80.00

Resubmit if savings continue after Year 2.

FY00-20 Robert Schenck DHFS/MMHI Use digital photography for patient pictures at Mendota MHI. The photos become part of the face sheet and are stored in computer files for retrieval and verification. These can be sent electronically and duplicated via laser jet printer.

Annual Savings: Varies. 5-Year Savings: $3,088.00.


Cash Award $30.00

FY00-21 Donald Nevert DHFS/DMT For every laptop computer purchased by DHFS, a security cable should be purchased. The use of security cables on laptops will protect against theft (approx $3,800 per computer) and protect against loss of sensitive information.

Savings are potential (loss prevention).


Will reconsider at next meeting; need more information from agency on actual savings based on past history of stolen laptops.

FY00-22 Lee Halverson & Steven Saeger DHFS/CWC In response to their suggestion, CWC now has designated winter parking areas for patients and staff. Concentrating snow removal in specific areas saves staff time.

Annual Savings: $1,200.

Certificate each

Cash Award $60.00 ($30.00 each)

FY00-23 Barbara Roznowski DHFS/OSF For winter safety, state cars should be equipped with minimum emergency items such as: blanket, first aid kit, flares/reflects, flashlight, batteries, etc., to enhance safety of state employees who travel in state cars on business.

No information on acquisition cost or anticipated benefits.

Will forward suggestion to DOA Fleet.  Will reconsider at future board meeting if implemented and information about savings is provided..
FY00-24 Mark Argue DHFS/CWC Attractive, high-quality wall coverings help raise the morale in institutions. Mr. Argue suggested and developed a means of getting this result at a fraction of the time and cost required in the commercial method.

Annual Savings: not specified. Depends on square footage of areas. Will also need to be assessed for longevity in 3 years.


Need more information from agency on implementation and savings.   Will reconsider at future board meeting.


A question was raised by several agency coordinators in regard to the requirement that a suggestion cannot be related to an employee's job in order to be eligible.   This requirement is clarified as follows:    A suggestion is not eligible for an award if it is directly related to a specific part of an employee's job description which states that the employee is responsible for regular review and suggestion for improvement of processes or equipment.   However, if an employee works on a particular program, process, or type of equipment -- and if regular review and improvement of that equipment or process is NOT specifically detailed in that employee's job description -- then the employee would be eligible for an award.  If there is any confusion about this matter, please contact the State Suggestion Program Coordinator, Robert Toomey, at e-mail WIEmployeeSuggestionProgram@Wisconsin.gov or telephone (608) 266-0664.


A question had been raised by a DER fiscal employee about the issue of tax implications for cash awards received by employees who submit suggestions to the program.  After research and discussion, it was determined that employees are -- and have always been -- responsible for reporting cash awards as taxable income.  It was decided that cash awards given by the State Employee Suggestion Program would not have deductions taken from the check, but employees will receive a form W-2 at the end of the year detailing total money awarded for that tax year.  It will then be the responsibility of the employee -- as it has always been -- to report it on his or her state and federal tax returns.

FOLLOW-UP MEETING -- May 17, 2000

The Board held a special follow-up meeting with DER staff on May 17 to discuss how to implement the Design Studio's recommendations.   In general, the Board wants to proceed with implementation of the plan.  This will likely involve hiring one of the students as a summer LTE to assist DER in this effort, including finalizing new logo design, producing promotional materials, redesigning the program Web site, developing a new procedural manual, coordinating document printing, and organizing one or two "kick-off" conferences for agency program coordinators.    (Agency coordinators will be critical to the unveiling of the new-look program, and will continue to be key to the success of this program as in the past.) 

One of the first matters which needs to be finalized is to fine-tune the new logo.   A focus group will be consulted to react to a few variations of a new logo and then it will be finalized in large part based on this group's feedback.  The Board will review two or three possible new logos along with the feedback from the focus group, and will need to decide on a new logo before production of the web site, posters, brochures, flyers, forms, certificates, and letterhead can proceed.

The Board has targeted August 1 as the desired roll-out date of the new program.


The board will hold its next meeting will be in early to mid-July.   Final details of the meeting date and location will be announced and agency/campus program coordinators will be invited.

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Last Modified:  5/21/2007 2:31:53 PM
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