Alabama employee suggestion board gets one idea — and can’t act on it

State offers cash award to state workers who develop money-saving ideas

By: - July 24, 2023 3:01 pm
The exterior of the Alabama Statehouse, with three main doors on the bottom, rising about six stories. The walls are white with a gray cap.

The Alabama Legislature has meet in the current Statehouse — the old Highway Department Building — since 1986. Amid deteriorating conditions in the current Statehouse, Alabama is pursuing what would be the nation’s first new State Capitol in nearly 50 years. (Stew Milne for Alabama Reflector)

Two letters. One suggestion. No action – at least not yet.

The state’s Employee Suggestion Review Board, which considers ideas from state workers about improving state government, got a single suggestion to consider at its quarterly meeting on Monday.

But because the proposal had not been vetted, the board could not act.

“It doesn’t have any agency evaluation, it doesn’t have the cost saving measures, nor does it have a signature from the appointing authority,” said Lexie SoloRio, the legislative counsel for the Alabama Personnel Department.


The board sent a response to the employee indicating what other items were needed.

“The suggestion was instead of the service pins, plaques, and things of that nature to make people feel appreciated,” SoloRio said while reading the letter. “‘What about a gift card or a day off?’”

The other letter was a series of questions about the program.

This marks the second straight quarter that the board did not grant awards.

The board was created by the Legislature in 2000 to succeed an earlier program created in 1981. The program offers cash incentives to employees who propose ways to make state government more efficient.

According to the guidelines, an employee who makes a suggestion that could save the state $500,000 could get a $1,000 award. A suggestion that would save $500,000 to $1 million would bring a $2,500 award. Saving the state more than $1 million would result in a $5,000 award.

“It could be a routine task that they do every day, there would be a better way to do it,” said Doryan Carlton, state budget officer. “Some of the things that we have approved in the past were things that seem simple, but not anything that anyone in the Legislature would have thought at all about.”

The program is open to any state employee within any of the agencies.

To receive a financial award, the agency that employs the individual must provide an analysis to determine the amount of money the suggestion would save. The person designated as the appointing authority must sign off on the recommendation as well.

“In order for us to approve it, the appointing authority and agency have to implement it, so without their approval we can never approve it,” SoloRio said.

The Board relies on the analysis of the respective agency to determine the amount of the savings because of an individual’s suggestion. The Board reviews the suggestion to determine if someone else submitted the same or similar proposal, if it is desirable and feasible, and whether it will improve service quality.

Gov. Kay Ivey signed an executive order at the beginning of this year that formed the Governor’s Study Group on Government Efficiency, to provide recommendations for streamlining government to potentially reduce the size and cost of government.


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Ralph Chapoco
Ralph Chapoco

Ralph Chapoco covers state politics as a senior reporter for States Newsroom. His main responsibility is the criminal justice system in Alabama.