Little Known State Program Has Resulted In A Half-Million In Savings Over 19 Years


Sometimes we conservatives tend to dwell on the bad things in government as opposed to the good things. And why wouldn’t we? After all, there are a lot of bad things in government. We also tend to cast government bureaucrats as being wasteful and indifferent, but that’s not really fair.

Today I wanted to write about a post which proves that many state employees really do care about the jobs they do, and try to be better stewards of our tax dollars.

A reader emailed me recently asking about North Dakota’s State Employee Suggestion Incentive Program and whether or not it could be a model for policy in other states that could result in significant savings of taxpayer dollars.

The ESIP allows state employees to make suggestions for saving costs and improving efficiency, and pays them a bonus (20% of savings up to a total of $2,000) if their suggestions are implemented.

I was aware of the program, but wasn’t sure how often it was actually used. Yesterday I put in an open records request for the data and today received a report detailing all of the cost savings, and bonus paid, in the program dating back to its inception in 1994.

The result, over that almost 19-year tenure, is $539,848.88 in savings with $36,189.70 in bonuses paid out to the state employees who came up with the ideas. That’s really not a lot spread out over nearly two decades, and as you can see from the chart, most of the savings came in two years – 1999, when suggestions for lower utility, mailing and advertising costs were implemented and 2001, when an employee suggested that the state stop covering prescription drug costs under Medicaid that are not covered under Medicare.

Most years don’t see a lot of suggestions or a lot of savings (see the full report below).

This is a good idea in concept. I wonder what, if anything, could be done to improve its implementation.

North Dakota Employee Suggestion Incentive History

Rob Port

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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