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Return of the State Employee Suggestion Box?

The now-infamous state employee suggestion box — a tool used by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to supposedly save $270 million but disappeared, never to be heard from again – may have returned in a new bill, albeit with a few enhancements.

A bill before the Government Administration and Elections Committee contains a provision proposed by Sen. Will Haskell, D-Wilton, which would reward state employees for money saving suggestions. 

State employees who find a practice determined by the state auditors to be a “gross waste of funds,” will be rewarded with a lump-sum payment equal to 10 percent of the state’s savings.

That 10 percent could potentially mean big money if a state employee can find those gross wastes of funds.

While it is essentially another suggestion box, similar to the one used by Gov. Malloy as part of his 2011 SEBAC agreement, there are some notable differences – the most pertinent being that Haskell’s suggestion box is not banking on a set amount of savings to fill a budget gap.

As part of the 2011 SEBAC agreement, Malloy said the state could find $270 million in savings through money-saving suggestions offered by state employees. 

During the 2011 negotiations, the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition reportedly gave a list of 344 suggestions to Hearst Media, which wrote that most of the suggestions were reducing the number of consultants the state uses. 

However, the suggestion box was never seen nor heard from again. The Malloy administration would not release it and labor leaders say they have it but won’t show it to anyone, and it became a bit of a sore point at the Capitol. 

Unlike Haskell’s bill, Malloy’s suggestion box did not offer any kind of employee incentive or way to verify the savings. According to the legislation, the savings will have to verified by state auditors before there can be any kind of reward.

But Connecticut’s auditors weren’t so keen on the prospect. 

In written testimony submitted to the Government Administration and Elections Committee, state auditors Robert Kane and John Geragosian said the bill lacked specifics and would put too much of a strain on their agency.

“The bill as written would put a tremendous burden on our office,” the auditors wrote. Kane and Geragosian offered their own suggestions for the bill, including setting a minimum threshold for savings and developing criteria to measure the savings.

The auditors also pointed out that Connecticut’s general statutes already contain a provision rewarding employees for cost-saving suggestions which pre-dates even Malloy’s suggestion box, although there are numerous restrictions on what can be suggested. 

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Marc E. Fitch

(2) Comments

  1. William Hennessey

    April 5, 2019 12:19 pm

    This reply is sent solely as a means of making contact with Marc Fitch (because his e-mail address eludes my search… ).

    I’m a retired 27-year veteran of The Connecticut Lottery, representing more than a dozen concerned alumni who urge your muck-raking of misdeeds and mismanagement at that important revenue-producer. Jon Lender of The COURANT is doing a good job of illuminating attention to CLC’s buyout “scheme” with dismissed President Anne Noble as well as highlighting the Lottery’s resistance to regulatory overview by The Dept. of Consumer Protection. State Auditors have already noted major problems therein.

    The Auditors also cite need for a Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities trial (that is now underway) in an important whistle-blower case involving CLC’s former Security Director. He was absolutely retaliated against for trying to protect integrity and internal morale. Your spotlight should shine on that case too. It fits well to augment your continuing efforts to expose abuse of special UConn deals and non-disparagement agreements. Obviously, something is seriously amiss when State agencies resort to stonewall tactics.

    Two legislative bills seem to be direct outgrowths of CLC excesses: #879 seeks more transparency, and #7334 proposes a whole new superstructure to reign-in the Lottery.

    If desired, I can provide voluminous background on this subject. Keep up your good work in helping Connecticut be honest and frugal.

  2. Thomas Topar

    March 26, 2019 8:21 am

    This is just another slap in the tax payers faces as the party of non representative government wants to reward those who are at the pinnacle of the problem. State workers are grossly over compensated in virtually all respects including but not limited too salary, retirement benefits, health care, holidays, and various other perks. To give them a bonus for doing their job is ridiculous especially when awards will be given as political pay back but the supposed cost savings never implemented. A case in point. Does anyone really think a state employee would show how the number of “union” employees could be reduced? My lord the democrats, the unions and the fools that support them would have apoplexy.

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