Arizona pays state workers for cost-cutting ideas

Arizona is offering to put some extra cash in the pockets of state workers who come up with ideas that can cut costs and save the state money.

It’s called the Employee Suggestion Program, and it’s not exactly a new idea. The state tried it for more than two and half decades and then dumped it not too long ago after it proved ineffective.

But after the city of Phoenix began showing some amazing savings thanks to the ideas of city workers, the state took notice, and Gov. Jan Brewer signed a new bill to revive the program.

Here’s how it works: If an employee suggests an idea that gets implemented and actually works to cut costs, then that employee gets a check for 10 percent of the savings.

Follow the candidates in the Arizona state races on FoxNews.com

In Phoenix, a number of workers have figured out how to save the state more than $15 million over the last nine years. Janice Jacobo, an operations superintendent at the Phoenix airport, had an idea about painting all buses the same color, which would reduce the number of spare buses needed by 60 percent. The idea was put into motion at Sky Harbor International Airport and resulted in nearly $2.4 million in savings.

Jacobo received a check for $3,500.

Meanwhile a group of Phoenix Water Services Department employees managed to avoid spending $3,381,460 on a complicated water project and instead spent a mere $15,000 to complete their task. How did they do it? By creating and testing their own product that was successful in finding a way to alter water flow as required by the project and ultimately enhance the water quality as well. For their ingenuity they each received a check for $2,381.

“I think it’s a win-win,” Arizona Rep. Rick Gray said. “It benefits the employees and it helps benefit the mindset of how can we make things better.”  

Gray and others are hoping Arizona’s new program can be as successful as the program in Phoenix, which Gray used as a model for the new state program. “Any time somebody’s working, they’re thinking, I could get a bonus,” he says.

The hope is that employees get motivated by the hope of some extra cash, while the state gets leaner and more efficient, by tapping into one of its greatest resources -- its citizens.        

Anita Vogel joined FOX News Channel (FNC) in 2001 and currently serves as a Los Angeles based correspondent.