Inside Seven
Current Issue: September 2014
Think!  Save!  Win!  Send your great ideas to the Employee Suggestion Program and you could win big money!

by  Jeanne Bonfilio
Issue Date: 05/2008

Think outside the box to receive a cash award for the use of your innovate and usable idea to improve operations in State government.

Have you ever had a great idea that could improve the State’s operations, save money, increase revenue or improve safety?  Could you use a cash award for the use of your idea? Then, here’s a suggestion -- submit your idea to the statewide Employee Suggestion Program (ESP).

The ESP, administered by the California Department of Personnel Administration (DPA), is a statewide program to reward employees who submit ideas that reduce or eliminate state expenditures and/or improve the safety or operations of state government. 

“We want to increase participation and awareness of this program and encourage all active, retired and even student assistant employees to submit ideas,” said Marilyn Moran, DPA Statewide Merit/Service Award Administrator.

State employees are encouraged to identify specific problems or areas for improvement and propose a valid solution to these problems to promote efficiency and effectiveness of State operations.  The ESP is one of three separate award programs within the Merit Award Program to recognize employee’s contributions.

"We would like to encourage everyone to keep coming up with new and innovative ideas to improve the ways Caltrans does business in all divisions,” said Shefa Bhuiyan, the District 7 Merit Award Program Coordinator.  “We need to remember to always work together as a quality team to improve our efficiency."

Since 1950, when the program began, thousands of suggestions have been adopted that have generated over $70 million in savings to the State within these four eligible categories: 1) ideas to improve State operations; 2) ideas that increase revenue, but not at taxpayer expense; 3) ideas to eliminate safety hazards; and 4) ideas to improve procedures and/or save on State costs.

All suggestions must describe a specific problem and offer a workable solution.  Those whose ideas and solutions are approved and put into effect will receive a Certificate of Merit and earn a cash award between $50 up to $50,000.

“Each state department can authorize awards up to $5,000.  Awards over this amount requires approval from the State Merit Award Board, the DPA director and the Legislature,” says Moran.  “Before payment is awarded, a suggested must be implemented and the benefit accurately determined.”

In 2003, a Caltrans Electrical Supervisor received the largest award possible - $50,000 – based on documented savings of $4.1 million by recommending the replacement of traffic signal lights with Light Emitting Diode (LED) modules.  The LEDs consumed less power than the incandescent lamps, last longer and are just as bright. 

A person, or a team, can suggest an idea for any State of California agency, not just the agency one is currently working. Participation in the ESP enables people to make an improvement and contribution to state government.

Submit suggestions on form Std. 645 for the California Department of Transportation to: Attention: Raymond Fish and Jason Burns, Merit Award, 1727 - 30th Street, MS 7, Sacramento, CA 95816.

For more information about the ESP program or how to submit a suggestion, contact Shefa Bhuiyan, District 7 Merit Award Program Coordinator at 213-897-0649, or visit the DPA website at for specific rules and forms.