Employees suggest changes via Web

In Iowa, the Internet has outdated another government fixture: the old wooden

suggestion box.

State employees can now submit suggestions to improve government efficiency

through the state's World Wide Web site.

The idea came from Gov. Tom Vilsack's Partners for Progress, a group

of 18 people from both government and the private sector charged with increasing

government efficiency. The group realized that employees have innovative

suggestions.

"Governor Vilsack believes that the real face of state government is

the state employees," said Linda Leto, quality coordinator for the Department

of Management, which oversees the Web site. "The employees who do the work

know best how to fix it," she said.

The Employee Suggestion System, available on the Reconnecting Iowans

Web site (www.reconnectingiowans.org) and linked from the state's Web site,

IOWAccess (www.state.ia.us), allows employees to fill out a form spelling

out a problem and offering a proposed solution. Forms can also be printed

out and submitted manually.

The form requires a name, agency, telephone number and other personal

information to be included, but an employee can remain anonymous by having

a Quality Coordinator from his or her department make the suggestion.

The goal, Leto said, is to collect "high-impact ideas for change." Once

a suggestion is made either online or in person, a review team within the

particular department determines the implications of the suggestion: where

it would be implemented, whether it would require legislation, how well

it might work, for example.

Once a decision is made, the team gives feedback to the originator of

the suggestion. Since the function became available on June 6, 80 suggestions

have been made, Leto said.

After a year, the system may be expanded to citizens, but Leto said

they wanted to first concentrate on employees. Theoretically, however, citizens

could fill out the online forms, she said.

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