Department of Human Resource Management
Policies and Procedures Manual
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Policy Number: 1.21 - Employee Suggestion Program
Efft. Date: 7/1/94 Rev. Date: 9/10/05

Application: Full-time and part-time classified, faculty, and hourly wage employees.

This policy establishes a statewide program to encourage employees to make suggestions for improving state government operations by saving money, making operations more efficient or effective, increasing revenue, or improving safety; to assess the potential value of the suggestions; and to reward employees whose suggestions are approved for implementation.

Agency ESP Coordinator An employee designated by the agency head to facilitate and promote the Employee Suggestion Program (ESP) in that agency, to serve as liaison with the Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM), and to forward suggestions to an appropriate evaluator when they are received by that agency for evaluation.
Awards Cash payments, days of paid leave, and/or certificates of recognition given to employees by agencies for suggestions adopted because they have identifiable value to one or more agencies and/or to state government generally.
DHRM ESP Manager The employee in the Department of Human Resource Management responsible for administering the ESP statewide.
Eligible Employee Full- and part-time employees, including hourly wage and faculty employees, of all executive branch agencies, and of any other agencies of state government that have elected to participate in the program. Eligible employees may submit suggestions and are eligible for a certificate, cash, or paid leave, except that wage employees are not eligible for paid leave time. Employees who leave state service before an award is made remain eligible for a certificate and/or cash award for one year from the date of final disposition.
ESP Procedures Manual A procedural guide to the Employee Suggestion Program for Agency ESP Coordinators and employees.
Evaluation The analysis of a suggestion that documents the feasibility and merit of its adoption, including expected savings or revenue increases, or reasons for non-adoption. See Suggestion Evaluation Form.
Evaluator The employee to whom a suggestion is referred for evaluation because of his or her expertise in the subject matter of the suggestion and knowledge of related agency and state operations.
Incurred Costs The costs incurred in implementing a suggestion and netted out of any savings or increased revenues produced by the suggestion, when stating expected or actual savings or revenue gains.
Management Reviewer The supervisor or manager of the evaluator’s unit/division who is qualified to review and support or reject the evaluator’s assessment of a suggestion.
Net Revenue or Net Savings The dollar amount generated or saved by an adopted suggestion during its first year of implementation, adjusted for any cost incurred in implementing. Cash awards are based on this figure.
Suggestion A proposal made by an eligible state employee on the Employee Suggestion Form that may produce the following results in one or more state agencies: increased productivity, reduction in expenditures, increased revenues, improved quality of services, or enhanced operational safety.
Agency Participation All Executive Branch agencies shall participate in the Employee Suggestion Program. State agencies not in the Executive Branch may elect to participate.

Participating agencies shall:
  • designate an ESP Coordinator,
  • record the results of the implementation of suggestions,
  • reward employees whose suggestions have been adopted, and
promote the program, with support from DHRM, in order to maximize the benefits to the state.
Submitting Suggestions Employees will submit their suggestions to the Employee Suggestion Program at the Department of Human Resource Management. The suggestion form is available at the ESP web site,; it may be completed and submitted through the web. The form may also be found in the ESP Procedures Manual, Appendix I, and may be submitted by e-mail (   or sent in hard copy to DHRM.
Tracking Suggestions Suggestions receive a number when submitted. This number identifies the suggestion throughout the evaluation process. Every attempt will be made to ensure the anonymity of the suggester until the suggestion is approved for adoption.
Employees Eligible for Award

All full-time classified, part-time classified, faculty, and wage employees in participating agencies may be eligible for award, and their suggestions remain eligible for one year from the date of final disposition of the suggestion. A suggester’s eligibility for award is based on his or her employment status at the time the suggestion is received by DHRM.

A former state employee whose suggestion had not completed the evaluation and implementation process before the employee separated from state service will remain eligible for cash award and/or a certificate for one year from the date of final disposition of the suggestion.

Suggestion Eligibility Suggestions are eligible for award consideration when their implementation causes activity related to the suggestion which results in savings (including cost avoidance) or increased revenue, or when operational, service, or safety improvements occur. Suggestions may be implemented in the employee’s own agency and/or in one or more other agencies.

Suggestions may be ineligible for award consideration for several reasons. For example, a suggestion is ineligible for award when an employee can be expected to implement it as part of his or her job duties, responsibilities and assigned tasks, or can implement it without higher level approval. Additional criteria for suggestion eligibility are described in detail in the ESP Procedures Manual.

Determination of eligibility is made by DHRM with input from the employee, the employee’s agency, or other agencies, as needed.
Evaluator Qualifications and Role

When a suggestion is received from DHRM for evaluation, the Agency ESP Coordinator should select an employee who possesses knowledge of the suggestion’s subject matter and of agency/state operations. The evaluator should be sufficiently qualified to consider the following:

  • originality of the idea;
  • potential value/benefit of the idea;
  • feasibility of implementation;
  • extent of application
  • estimation of costs; and
  • estimated savings to be expected from implementation.

The evaluator is expected to consult with appropriate agency fiscal personnel to develop cost, revenue, and/or savings information.

Group or Duplicate Awards If two or more employees individually submit similar suggestions that are received at the same time, the suggestions will be evaluated together, and any awards will be divided equally among all eligible suggesters. Two or more employees may join to submit suggestions as a group. Any award will be shared equally among eligible group members, except that paid leave is awarded in increments of no less than four (4) hours.
Patents and Copyrights Patents and copyrights, or materials that are potentially eligible for patent or copyright, that are developed within the scope of an employee’s job or when using state-owned or state-controlled facilities shall be the property of the Commonwealth of Virginia. (This provision does not apply to employees of state-supported institutions of higher education who are subject to intellectual property policies of their institutions.)
Use of Suggestion The state shall have the right to make full use of suggestions submitted by employees to the ESP. The use of employee suggestions by the state shall not be the basis of further claims of any kind by the suggester or the suggester’s heirs or assigns.
Awards of Cash Awards of cash are authorized only for eligible employees whose ideas
  • are adopted and implemented and
  • result in quantifiable dollar savings or increased revenue.
NOTE:  Cash payments will not be made in cases where federal regulations or local fund restrictions prohibit such payments. Agencies are encouraged to request that their funding sources provide award payments as appropriate under the ESP unless prohibited.
Funding of Cash Awards Cash awards are to be made to suggesters by implementing agencies from savings and/or revenue actually generated in the first year of implementation of the suggestions. If all anticipated savings/revenues are generated within the first year, the calculation and award may occur at that time and before the full year has elapsed. Agencies are responsible for identifying the source (program) of savings or increased revenues and for paying cash awards from that program. See ESP Procedures Manual for payment processing information.
Calculation of Award as Percentage of Savings or Revenue

Cash awards shall be computed as a percentage of net savings or revenue as outlined below.

If the amount of net
1st yr. savings/revenue is:
the cash award will be:
over $20,000 $5,000 + 1% of amt over $20,000
$501 - $20,000 25% of the savings/revenue
$101 - $500 25% or 1 day of leave (employee opt)
$100 or less No cash award is made.
Eligible classified employees may receive non-cash awards of one to five days of paid leave for suggestions that result in significantly improved processes, programs, services, or safety, for which benefits are not quantifiable.
Factors Used to
Determine Value

Evaluators are to use the following six factors in estimating the point value of a suggestion:

  • degree of improvement in operations, forms, facilities, or equipment;
  • degree of improvement in employee relations, working conditions, safety, service to the public, or public attitude;
  • extent of application;
  • completeness of proposal;
  • effort involved in developing the idea; and
  • cost of adoption.
See the ESP Procedures Manual and Suggestion Evaluation Form for further information, including chart for converting points to days of leave.
ESP Leave ESP leave days are managed in the same way as compensatory leave (see Policy 3.10, Compensatory Leave). ESP leave not taken within 12 months will be forfeited. Active ESP leave balances will be paid when the employee leaves state service.
Wage Employees Wage employees whose suggestions are adopted may not receive paid leave. Agencies are encouraged to recognize them in other
appropriate ways, including non-monetary awards through the agency’s Recognition Program. See Policy 1.20, Employee Recognition Programs.
DHRM will coordinate the process for obtaining a certificate of recognition signed by the Director of DHRM and the Governor, and will send this to the employee’s agency for signature by that agency head and for appropriate presentation to the employee.

The Department of Human Resource Management is responsible for:

  • developing and interpreting this policy;
  • providing web-based access to program forms and other information;
  • collecting information concerning ESP submissions and awards and producing an annual report;
  • providing promotional support for the program and assisting agencies’ promotional efforts; and
  • publicizing accepted suggestions and financial awards to state employees.

DHRM will manage the program by:

  • receiving and tracking suggestions;
  • confirming receipt of suggestion to the suggester within 30 days.
  • protecting the identity of the suggester during the evaluation process;
  • determining an appropriate agency for evaluating each suggestion; 
  • forwarding the suggestion to the ESP Coordinator in the selected agency;
  • receiving and reviewing the completed evaluation, and informing the suggester (and his or her agency, if the suggestion is to be adopted) of the evaluation result;
  • confirming the number of days of paid leave to be awarded for suggestions of intangible value, and forwarding to the agency for award;
  • ensuring that the final value of the first year’s implementation of a suggestion with tangible benefits is recorded by the affected agency or agencies, and directing a cash award based on that value;
  • obtaining and sending to the suggester’s agency a certificate of recognition if the suggestion is adopted; and
  • arranging for an appeal panel when a suggester appeals an eligibility ruling or evaluation result.

DHRM will maintain a list of Agency ESP Coordinators and will communicate with them on program matters.

Appeal Process

Suggesters may appeal determinations of non-eligibility and decisions not to adopt their suggestions to DHRM. An informal re-evaluation process may be offered and, if acceptable, will be conducted.  If the suggester does not agree to this process or is not satisfied with the results, DHRM will assemble a group of individuals suitable to the needs of the specific suggestion, ensuring representation of the private sector as required by Va. Code §2.2-1201 (12).  This group will conduct any research needed, consider the issues, and render a final decision on the suggestions

Suggesters may also appeal to have a suggestion re-considered if they believe that the idea was implemented within one year after receiving the non-adoption notice.

All appeals should be presented to DHRM in writing and in a timely manner.


Agency heads in executive branch agencies and other participating agencies are responsible for ensuring that their agencies comply with the policies and procedures of the ESP as found in this policy and in the ESP Procedures Manual. Key responsibilities include:

  • appointing an Agency ESP Coordinator and ensuring that he or she fulfills the requirements of that role as outlined in this policy and in the ESP Procedures Manual;
  • promoting participation in the program;
  • ensuring that ESP suggestions are evaluated within 60 days from the date submitted.  Program reports to the legislature and Governor will include information on suggestion evaluations that have not met this time limit.
  • ensuring that selected employees complete evaluations of suggestions as requested by DHRM through the Agency ESP Coordinator;
  • ensuring that the proper amount of leave time is awarded;
  • ensuring maintenance of financial and other data needed to document savings or increases in revenue resulting from implementation of an ESP suggestion;
  • directing payment of the correct cash award to the suggester after the first year the suggestion is implemented, or sooner if all anticipated savings/revenues have been realized; and
  • conducting appropriate events to recognize employees whose suggestions have been adopted.

The Department of Human Resource Management issues this policy pursuant to the authority provided in Va. Code § 2.2-1201.


The Director of the Department of Human Resource Management is responsible for official interpretation of this policy, in accordance with section Va. Code § 2.2-1201 (12).

Questions regarding the application of this policy should be directed to the Department of Human Resource Management's Office of Agency Human Resource Services.

The Department of Human Resource Management reserves the right to revise or eliminate this policy at any time.

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