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​Kentucky Employee Suggestion System Awards, 2014

The 2014 KESS award recipients were recognized March 11 at the Governor's Mansion.  Fifty-one employees' ideas were approved for implementation, and combined, are expected to save the Commonwealth more than $335,000 in the first year alone.

View each agency's winners below.

Tanya Engle suggested requiring workers and administrative assistants to verify what is already within a supply cabinet before ordering office supplies to ensure available supplies are used before new ones are ordered. The Department for Community Based Services' region administrators are being informed of this potential cost-saving practice. Tanya received a $100 award.        

Deborah Garrison suggested updating rejection letters for local health department positions to specify that only current employees within the merit or classified personnel system have appeal rights, thus saving on appeal requests from individuals who may not qualify for them. This change is expected to have a possible savings from reduced postage, supplies and staff time. Deborah received a $100 award.         

Krista Hamilton made two suggestions. The first was limiting the number of personnel change (P2) forms that local employees print to those documenting significant changes. This change will save $700, save time and limit material used, as well as improving office methods and efficiency.  She also suggested that state public health staff not keep and archive materials for which local health departments are the primary custodians, saving approximately $775. Krista received a $200 award for her suggestions.        

Danielle Huber proposed that a 180-degree 'bubble' mirror be installed on the wall opposite the entrance of the basement walking track. This will help prevent injuries from collisions involving people entering the track and those walking. Danielle received a $100 award.         

James Kimble proposed an adjustment to billing review practices in the Supports for Community Living Waiver Branch by creating a template that saves set-up and staff time. He received a $100 award.         

Jill Lee is part of the Medicaid unit that conducts investigations into preliminary fraud or improper use of Medicaid cards. She suggested that when a Medicaid card is used to procure controlled substances, the person be charged with 218A.140: Prohibited acts relating to controlled substances, which is a class D felony.  She received a $100 award.         

Karen York suggested replacing a blank field on a form to a drop-down box with specific choices. This will save time and increase consistency. She received a $100 award.        

Alta Bellestri suggested that the first step in the child placement home evaluation process be a records check to determine any previous substantiated abuse or neglect charges.  Per cabinet policy, these individuals are not eligible for child placement, and by running this screening up front, staff time and effort can be saved, and safety and efficiency can be increased. She received a $100 award.         



Judy Solomon suggested ProCard documents be scanned and uploaded to a secure file on the agency’s server instead of being sent priority mail to the headquarters office. The idea resulted in a first year’s saving of $2,010.       

Angela Wolfe suggested the Veterans Centers’ closets and restroom be equipped with motion sensor lights to conserve energy and reduce utility expenses. Ms. Wolfe was awarded $100 for her excellent suggestion.        


Department of Libraries and Archives, State Records Branch  

​​ C​ynthia Snapp and James Cundy’s suggestion deals with Local Agency Archived Records Locator Copies and State Agency Archived Records Disposition Authorizations. Cynthia and James suggested eliminating making copies, producing a cover letter and mailing the copies required to be sent back to each agency’s records officer. Instead, they would scan the required copies and email them back to the agency records officer saving the agency copy paper, letterhead, toner, printer ink, envelopes and postage. Each agency transmittal could contain anywhere from 1 to 10 pages, and they could produce 1200 correspondences annually. The savings from their suggestion was $2000. Cynthia and James split a $200 award.   



Paul Stratton provided qualified re-certification classes in the areas of CPR, First Aid, Bloodborne Pathogens and AED training, removing the need for the Division for Air Quality to pay for an outside trainer.  Many other divisions are now doing the same. The suggestion will result in a savings of $6860. He was awarded $686.         

Shawn Hokanson submitted two suggestions. He recommended that hard copies of KPDES and DMR permits be eliminated and that email be used.  The recommended savings is $1760 and he was awarded $176.  His second suggestion replaced the paper log for batch processing and modified the tracking database. He was awarded $100 for this suggestion.        

After a fire at the King's Tire facility 10,887 tons of shredded tires were targeted for cleanup.  Ricky Solomon researched and was able to negotiate with a nearby landfill that beneficially reused 50% of the shreds in their leach line construction project. His action demonstrated a saving of $659,258.71 and he was awarded $100 for his suggestion.       

Donna Schartung added a submenu in KHRIS for resetting passwords. She was awarded $100.        

Pamela Farmer suggested creating a mandatory driver training for state employees involved in an at-fault motor vehicle accident to decrease the frequency and severity of those losses.  This suggestion was submitted in 2011, but due to the procurement process, the implementation did not take place until March, 2013.  While it was impossible to calculate a savings, it was a good suggestion, so she received a $100 intangible award.        

Commonwealth Office of Technology

With the consolidation of IT Services, Carrie Cottew suggested repurposing some of the automation testing tools in a different manner to set up the new employees in mass and reduce the manual effort.  It took about 1 to 2 hours to set up the parameters for the data entry.  Due to her ingenuity and thinking outside the box, this saved approximately 80 hours in Finance and 80 hours by her staff in COT.  She was given a $100 intangible award.        

Steve Moss made two suggestions regarding the Commonwealth Data Center.  One of the issues the branch faces in the Commonwealth Data Center is maintaining the proper temperature and airflow.  His first suggestion addresses patching floors under the racks that hold the equipment.  Steve researched and found the product specifically made for this purpose would cost $23,788.  Thinking outside the box, Steve could use other materials meeting fire codes.  The total cost would be $400 for a savings of $23,388. This award was for $2339.        

Steve's second suggestion addresses the rack configuration for the IT equipment.  With the continual movement of IT equipment on open rack units in the CDC it is hard to maintain the hot and cold air blending.  The CDC has been researching the "off the shelf" products and found the lowest price was $29,701. Steve suggested using available resources from Lowes with the ability to cut custom sizes.  It does not violate any patents, it meets the fire and electrical codes and will not void any equipment warranties and poses no problems for the CDC. Utilizing this do it yourself approach, the Cabinet saved $24,485.85 in materials.  His award is $2449. Both these suggestions also create a savings in energy.          

Charlotte Robinson suggested adding a programming code so that when there is a challenge with a Unemployed Insurance Claim for Benefits and a UI 492 Notice of Determination is prepared, it is also automatically imaged.  This would do away with their current method of printing and forwarding a copy to the UI Records staff for imaging.  Charlotte received $100 intangible award.        


Jennifer Noe created an electronic file system to replace a hard copy system for maintaining institutional audit documentation. By storing files electronically in a central collection point efficiencies are achieved by not having to source files from multiple locations and produce redundant copies for audit reviews. Annual savings are estimated to be $10,644 and she was awarded $1064.         

Danny Norris, Coleman Morrell put their heads together to implement the Staff Training and Retention (STAR) program as part of an effort to increase hiring effectiveness of Correctional Officers. The STAR program institutes a structured, measurable training agenda that utilizes the knowledge of experienced staff and provides new officers with a more complete knowledge of their duties before completing the job probation period. They split a $100 intangible award.        

Meredith Sanford's suggestion created a specific electronic drive to store updated institutional policy & procedure information at the DOC central office. This drive will replace a cumbersome manual process and the most current P&P's are now readily accessible. She received a $100 intangible award for her suggestion.        


Shannon Couch suggested eliminating unnecessary and redundant items in a computer service contract for maintaining the OSHA Education and Training e-learning program. The savings from her suggestion were $20,750. Shannon received a $2075 award.        

Cher Eaves suggested that the Personnel Cabinet add a section to their website listing volunteer opportunities throughout the Commonwealth. Cher received a $100.00 award.        

Steven Fields suggested cancelling a subscription to a legal service providing occupational health and safety decisions. The information from that subscription was already being provided by another subscription which the attorneys accessed daily. His suggestion saved $2430. Steven received a $243.        

Linda Grow suggested eliminating photo CD's, DVD's, disc sleeves and the envelopes used to store them, from OSHA contested violation files. Linda suggested that the photos be placed on a shared computer drive which would save filing space while also providing easier access to the photos. Her suggestion saved $400. Linda received a $100 award.        

Kaycie Len Sparrow suggested cancelling a maintenance contract for two NCR servers used to report to the Federal OSHA program. In addition to charging the $4995 retainer fee, the company also charged between $100-$3000 per visit for maintenance, parts and labor. Kaycie Len found another company that provided the same services on an as-needed basis. Her suggestion saved $4995. Kaycie Len received a $500 award.        

Jeannie Triplett suggested placing the wage and hour complaint form on the agency's web page to allow claimants to submit the form by using an electronic signature. Previously a handwritten signature was required. When claimants failed to sign the form, it caused delays in processing the claim, along with an additional cost for postage. Jeannie received a $100 intangible award.        


Todd Baggarly suggested renaming the employee ID field for KHRIS password resets to prevent confusion on the part of non-Commonwealth employees and reduce open enrollment support inquiries. Todd received $100 for his suggestion with intangible savings.         

Christie Burkhead proposed a cost effective way to handle technical and password/reset phone calls during health insurance open enrollment proposed a cost effective way to handle technical and password/reset phone calls during health insurance open enrollment.  Christie received a $2,500 award for her suggestion that saved $75,000.        

Rick Davis suggested changes to educational achievement award practices that will promote consistency in the recognition of credentials accepted for both EEAS and merit employment purposes.  Rick received $100 for his suggestion with intangible savings.         

Larry Gillis suggested adding the FLSA status of a position to job postings thereby providing additional information to the applicants.  Larry received $100 for his suggestion with intangible savings.         

Susan Hazelwood submitted a suggestion that provides greater security to venders in E-mars.  Susan received $100 for her suggestion with intangible savings.         

Michele Kays recommended two different suggestions that provide better functionality and accessibility for employees and managers in KHRIS.  Michele received two awards of $100 each for her suggestions with intangible savings.         

Sherry Kefauver suggested eliminating two duplicate accounts in E-mars to save employee time and increase efficiency.  Sherry received $100 for her suggestion with intangible savings.        


Robert Spencer, with the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife suggested reducing the cost of mailing booklets by not placing them into envelopes but instead to simply mail them without the envelopes like most other catalogs that are delivered.  His suggestion improved their office methods, improved efficiency, created a first-year savings of $4600. He was awarded $460.        

John Coffey, with the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife submitted two suggestions.  His first idea was to change the way the summer camp bus transportation was contracted.  He suggested the Commonwealth enter into agreements with local school districts instead of the more costly bus companies.  John's suggestion will have a first-year savings of $17,905.57.  He was awarded $1791.        

John's second suggestion provided information to the parents of KDFWR camp participants via email and the website. This helped in promoting camp activities as well as tourist opportunities.  John's award for this suggestion was $100.        

Kevin Main, with the Dept. of Parks, suggested changing the two-part pre-numbered Department of Parks Golf Course Receipt into one form.  Kevin's low- cost solution improved the current process, saved time, money, material and increased efficiency for guest services.  First year savings were $3752. He was awarded $375.20.        


Pamela Beach-Marshall suggested abolishing an antiquated system and developing an application which would accept credit card payments, so COT was able to incorporate this process into the current application program used by Motor Carriers which saved $78,000 in just what it would have cost to get an outside company to do this. She was awarded $2500.        

Rebecca Doyle created a macro to work with our Mainframe ALTS system so auditors could perform audits on KIT/KYU tax returns in a timely manner. She was awarded $100.

James Drake, Sean Howard, James Lang suggested that instead of purchasing hard copy FAA aviation manuals, the agency purchase ipads and an online FAA subscription which allows access to the manuals. They shared an award of $100.

Heath O'Bryan was award $100 for his suggestion that all safety personnel performing maintenance work on bridges wear strobe lights, to make them even more visible to motorists.        

Jessica Parker was award $100 when she suggested  Motor Carriers have access to the ACL software currently used by Audits, instead of paying a separate renewal fee each year.  Motor Carriers can have access to the software to separate the property taxes from registration fees on monthly transmittals received in the office.        

Brian Terrell suggested that instead of producing yearly license plates for dealers, the agency only produce a decal that can be used on the current plates, which saved over $38,000. He was awarded $2500.        

Jennifer Whitehouse was awarded $100 when she suggested creating a form for customers who wish to remove the VIN # from destroyed vehicles.        

Samantha Willian was awarded $531 when she suggested the maintenance barns purchase old, unused lockers from schools rather than buying new ones which would have cost over $6300. They purchased 200 lockers for only $1000.        

Department of Local Government

The state's local officials utilized an Oracle-based web site, managed by the Dept. for Local Government, to log, view and track their training hours.  This software/site is a leased product.  Todd Kirby suggested that our department IT personnel build a version in-house that is catered more to the needs of the state and local officials. The total first-year savings of $16,825.32 is expected. Todd was awarded $1,683.