Part of the fun of researching issues is the stuff you stumble across that you\’re not even looking for.

For instance, today I uncovered an old report from a government program that actually paid cash to state employees for offering up ideas to save money.  It was called the \”State Employees Suggestion Program.\”  They actually had a big banquet where they gave state employees awards for suggesting budget cuts.  And I am not even kidding.

In fact, here are some details found in this report on the program from 1988:

During 1988, 50 cash awards totalling $4,945 were given out for suggestions from state employees, and 54 certificates of commendation were issued.  According to the report, suggestions offered in 1988 saved state taxpayers $680,580.  In the previous five years, it was estimated that the program saved taxpayers $3.5 million.

Special recognition goes to Martin Romero at the Department of Administration, who won the 1988 \”Suggester of the Year\” award for suggesting WEPCO apply for energy conservation rebates offered by the company itself.  Apparently, it saved $600,000 that year (out of $680,580 total).

Much thanks goes to the Kettle Moraine Correctional Institution, which was awarded the 1988  \”Agency of the Year\” award, due in part to the fact that the institution generated an average of one suggestion per eight employees.  People are still talking about that year – not even Barry Bonds is going to touch that one.

That banquet had to be a lot of fun.  Can\’t you just imagine the electricity generated by a room full of disgruntled state employees? You\’d probably sitting there with 50 other people whose suggestions to save money were probably to fire you.

I checked the statute that created the program, and it deals with a different topic now – so I assume the program is now gone.  I say bring it back, if for no other reason than to let Martin \”Scissorhands\” Romero defend his crown.