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State of New Jersey, Civil Service Commission
Governor Chris Christie • Lt.Governor Kim Guadagno
 
 

SUBCHAPTER 6. AWARDS PROGRAM


4A:6-6.1 General provisions
(a) In local service, appointing authorities may establish and administer awards programs.

(b) In State service, the following types of award programs are established:

1. Awards for Commendation;

2. Awards for Suggestions;

3. Service Recognition;

4. Other awards programs as the New Jersey Employee Awards Committee may establish; and

5. Department or agency awards programs approved by the New Jersey Employee Awards Committee.

(c) The awards program applies to all employees in the executive branch of State government, whether in the career, senior executive or unclassified service, including autonomous agencies within executive departments; applicable employees in the Judiciary; and all employees in the Office of Legislative Services.

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(a) The New Jersey Employee Awards Committee (Committee) shall be established in the Department of Personnel under the supervision of the Commissioner. The Committee shall consist of seven persons, each of whom shall be employed in a different department in the Executive Branch.

1. Committee members shall be appointed by the Governor upon nomination by the Commissioner, for staggered terms of three years or until a successor is appointed. If a vacancy on the Committee occurs by reason other than expiration of term, the vacancy shall be filled for the unexpired term. No member shall serve more than two consecutive full terms.

2. Members of the Committee shall serve without compensation but shall be reimbursed for their actual and necessary expenses.

3. The Committee shall meet and organize as soon as practicable after the annual appointment of new members and select a Chairperson from among its members. The Committee shall hold a regular meeting at least once each month unless there is no business to conduct or the Executive Secretary (Secretary) determines that agenda items are so routine that they may be held over to the next meeting. Special meetings may be held at the call of the Chairperson.

4. The Secretary shall submit monthly reports to the Commissioner concerning operations of the Awards Program, which shall include data on activity level, processing time, and program benefits to the State. This data will also be furnished to each agency's chief executive officer. The Secretary shall submit an annual report of the Committee's activities to the Governor through the Commissioner.

5. The administrative work of the Committee shall be performed by the Secretary and other necessary staff designated by the Commissioner.

(b) Departmental committees shall be established in each agency operating under the Awards Program, under the supervision and direction of the Committee. Divisional and institutional award subcommittees may be established within agencies, but the responsibility for the agencies' activities will remain with the departmental committees.


1. The departmental committees shall include at least three members appointed by the agency's chief executive officer for a term of one year, effective each May 18. Departmental committee members shall be employees who are responsible for evaluation and analysis of the agency's programs. The chairperson of the departmental committee shall be an individual who has direct access to the chief executive officer. When necessary, the services of a departmental committee member or other departmental employee with expertise in cost-benefit analyses shall be made available to the departmental committee.

2. Departmental committees shall meet at least monthly unless there is no business to conduct and shall establish procedures for the processing of awards within their agencies, in accordance with the rules in this subchapter and with the approval of the Committee.

3. Departmental committees shall be responsible for objectively and impartially investigating and evaluating each proposed suggestion or award nomination furnished to them by the Committee and returning a timely and documented recommendation to the staff of the Committee.

4. Departmental committees shall be responsible for suitable ceremonies for the presentation of awards to their employees and shall use available means, as the Committee may propose, to promote employee participation in the awards program.

5. Departmental committees shall report their activities to the Committee through their chairpersons.

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(a) The Committee shall maintain the following records:

1. Official copies of the minutes of all meetings and all other official actions which are public information.

2. Copies of all suggestions, as defined in N.J.A.C. 4A:6-6.5, received by the Committee, along with supporting documents and recommendations from departmental committees.

(b) The departmental committees shall maintain the following records:

1. Official copies of the minutes of all meetings and all other official actions which are public information.

2. Copies of each suggestion, as defined in N.J.A.C. 4A:6-6.5, which is referred by the Committee, with supporting documentation and the recommendation of the departmental committee.

3. Records of all transactions and supportive documentation for Option No. 2 suggestions as defined in N.J.A.C. 4A:6-6.6.

(c) Records shall be retained after the final action by the Committee in accordance with each department's record retention schedule. See N.J.A.C. 15:3-2.1 et seq.

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(a) Commendation Awards shall be established in, but not limited to, the following four categories:

1. Heroism Awards may be made to employees who perform acts of bravery or personal sacrifice of a life threatening nature above and beyond the duties and responsibilities of the employee's position and which reflect credit upon the State of New Jersey, whether or not the act was performed during working hours.

2. Exceptional Service Awards may be made to employees for outstanding acts of public service above and beyond the duties and responsibilities of the employee's position which shall include, but not be limited to, appropriate responses to a crisis or emergency situation and which reflect credit upon the State of New Jersey, whether or not the act was performed during working hours.

3. Professional Achievement Awards may be made to employees in recognition of meritorious or distinguished accomplishments which need not fall entirely within the scope of normal duties. An award may be made to an employee who has:

i. Initiated and successfully established new and outstanding methods, practices, plans or designs in such fields as, but not limited to, administration, engineering, law, medicine or environmental sciences;

ii. Achieved honors from professional societies, educational institutions or recognized groups for outstanding performance in his or her field; or

iii. Provided key assistance to the recipient of an award.

4. Community Service Awards may be made to employees who have made outstanding contributions to the communities in which they live or to the State as a whole through organizational activities outside the workplace.

(b) Employee commendation awards may be made to an employee or a group of employees.

(c) A nomination for an employee commendation award may be submitted by an employee or by any other individual to the Committee along with supporting information.

1. Nominations in the heroism category must be submitted within one year of the specified act.

2. Upon receipt, the nomination will be reviewed by the Secretary and a letter of acknowledgement sent to the nominator. Copies of the nomination shall then be forwarded to the appropriate departmental committee(s) for investigation and recommendation.

3. The departmental committee shall make a thorough investigation of the nomination and thereafter, by majority vote, recommend approval or disapproval. If the recommendation is for disapproval, the nomination shall be returned to the Secretary with an explanation of the reasons for disapproval, along with any supporting documents. If the departmental committee recommendation is for approval, the nomination with recommendations and supporting documentation shall be forwarded to the department's chief executive officer for endorsement. The nomination, with recommendations and supporting documents, shall then be returned to the Secretary.

4. The Committee shall consider the nomination and the departmental committee's recommendation and decide whether or not an award should be made and the type of award. The Secretary shall advise the nominator, in writing, of the action of the Committee. Presentation ceremonies shall be arranged by the Secretary.

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(a) A suggestion is a written proposal from an individual or a group of individuals (team) which will produce notable economy or improvement in an operation of State government or one which will improve service to the public, employee safety or employee welfare.

(b) To be considered for a suggestion award, the following requirements must be met:

1. The suggestion must be original, or propose a new application of an old idea;

2. The suggestion must be implemented or ordered implemented by a State agency; and

3. There must be a causal relationship between the suggestion and implementation of the improvement.

(c) The following suggestions are not eligible for an award:

1. A suggestion which represents a part of an employee's duties and which the employee has the authority to change or the responsibility to bring to the attention of his or her supervisor;

2. A suggestion by an employee whose primary duty is research and planning unless the suggestion concerns a matter which is clearly unrelated to the employee's assignment or primary duty;

3. A suggestion which was initially disapproved, unless the idea is implemented as a result of the suggestion within two years from notice of disapproval and is subsequently approved by the Committee;

4. A suggestion which is received by the Committee more than six months (excluding necessary trial period) after it has been placed in use;

5. A suggestion concerning routine maintenance of buildings, equipment or grounds, which should be normally reported. Where sustained complaints have not resulted in correction, the Committee may consider such a suggestion for an award;

6. A suggestion involving new structures, equipment, materials and procedures during the initial period of trial, experiment or development, the length of which is considered reasonable by the Committee;

7. A suggestion which simply involves instituting or raising fees or taxes levied by the State;

8. A suggestion to transfer programs or activities from one level of government to another, unless the transfer of the program or activity effectuates a savings or improvement of services;


9. A suggestion to recoup owed funds from another agency or political subdivision of the state;

10. Any idea or improvement which no State agency is authorized to perform, or which requires legislative or regulatory changes or the enforcement of a law or regulation;

11. A suggestion which involves the use of known technologies or methodologies similar to those already utilized in other areas of the Department or State government; or

12. A suggestion for which staff salary is calculated as savings, without proof that staff is performing a specific work assignment unrelated to the suggestion.

(d) All persons employed in State government at the time of submission are eligible, except members of the Committee or a departmental committee, the Secretary, or the staff of the Awards program.

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(a) Suggestions shall be submitted on a form prescribed by the Committee, which shall include:

1. A brief statement describing the present condition, method or practice, and where it exists.

2. A specific statement of what is suggested and how it can be accomplished. Sketches, charts, samples and additional data may be included.

3. A concise statement of the benefits which will accrue and the name of the organization or organizations which will benefit.

4. The name, home mailing address, social security number, title of present position, salary range, and department and division of the suggester.

(b) Suggestions may be submitted through one of two options at the discretion of the suggester:

1. Option 1 suggestions are suggestions sent to the Committee, which then refers them to the appropriate departmental committee(s).

2. Option 2 suggestions are sent to the Committee to ensure that the suggestion is recorded as the suggester's property. Thereafter, the suggester directly works with supervisory personnel and the departmental committee to develop and refine the suggestion.

(c) The Committee and the departmental committees shall utilize the following procedures in processing suggestions:

1. For Option 1, the departmental committee shall make, within 90 days of receipt of the suggestion from the Committee, an evaluation and a recommendation to the Committee.

2. For Option 2, the departmental committee shall make arrangements with the suggester and appropriate supervisory personnel to develop and refine the suggestion. This departmental committee shall, within a reasonable time, make an evaluation and recommendation to the Committee.

3. The Secretary shall make the initial review of all proposed award recommendations from the departmental committees. When the recommendation from the departmental committee is for disapproval, the Secretary shall, from the evidence presented, determine if the disapproval should be upheld. When the recommendation is for approval and the recommended amount of the award is $500.00 or less, the Secretary may authorize the award.


4. The Committee shall review evaluations from departmental committees when the recommendation is for approval and the recommended amount of the award is more than $500.00. Following review, the Committee shall either accept, reject or modify the recommendation.

5. If the Committee determines that it is necessary to use outside consultants in the development or evaluation of a suggestion, the costs may be offset against any award, in coordination with the affected Agency.

6. The Secretary or the Committee, as the case may be, may request further information of the departmental committee, and may return the recommendation to the departmental committee for further deliberations, prior to any formal action taken by the Secretary or Committee concerning the recommendation.

7. The Secretary shall notify the suggester of the disposition of the suggestion within 60 days of receipt of the departmental committee's recommendation, and whether there will be a trial period and the length of such period. See N.J.A.C. 4A:6-6.10 for appeals.

(d) After approval of a suggestion award, the Secretary shall notify the affected agency to issue a check, less appropriate payroll deductions, to be drawn from the agency's operating budget, for the payment of awards within 60 days of notification.

1. Except when the Committee elects to arrange a special ceremony in conjunction with the departmental committee, a confirming letter will be sent to the Secretary that the check was presented.

2. Awards involving vacation options under N.J.A.C. 4A:6-6.7(a)2 will be arranged by the employee's Personnel Officer on a case by case basis.

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(a) Awards for suggestions shall be in cash or additional paid vacation time-off in lieu of cash under certain circumstances.

1. Cash awards shall be no less than $50.00 nor more than $10,000 for each approved suggestion.

2. The suggester may select a time-off option of up to two days in lieu of a cash award which shall be based on the daily rate of pay of the suggester.

(b) When a suggestion is adopted primarily because it will result or has resulted in saving money, the amount of the award shall be 10 percent of the net annual savings in the first year of operation, to be paid after the first year of implementation, up to the $10,000 maximum. The Committee has the authority to waive the one year timeframe, when savings have been verified prior to the end of the first year of implementation, or as deemed appropriate by the Committee. Under exceptional conditions, the Committee may select a typical year or may average several years to determine an award.

(c) When a suggestion is adopted primarily upon the basis of improvements in such areas as safety, health, welfare and morale, or it is otherwise not possible to determine monetary savings, the departmental committee shall provide the necessary documentation, which shall include the recommended amount of the award based on the following factors:

1. Effectiveness of solution offered by suggesters;

2. Seriousness of present problem in terms of money or other factors;

3. Extent of problem;

4. Probability of problem actually happening; and

5. Ingenuity of the solution.

(d) A suggester shall receive the full amount of the award when the suggestion is implemented. Where implementation is not complete but specific steps have been taken, a partial award may be approved at the Committee's discretion. It shall be the responsibility of the departmental committee to inform the Secretary when a suggestion has been placed into operation. Disputes regarding the date of implementation shall be resolved by the Committee.

(e) A cash or other award shall be in addition to the regular compensation of the recipient. The acceptance of such award shall constitute an agreement that the use of the suggestion by the State or its subdivisions or independent authorities shall not form the basis of a further claim of any additional award, compensation or payment by the employee, his or her heirs, or assignees.


(f) Persons who leave State service after having submitted a suggestion are still eligible for an award. In the case of death, the award shall be paid to the suggester's estate.

(g) Departmental awards consisting of plaques may be presented to the department or autonomous agency with the best record of employee participation during the fiscal year for the:

1. Highest number of suggestions approved per one hundred employees.

2. Highest dollar savings to the State realized through implementation of suggestions from their employees.

(h) Special awards consisting of plaques may be presented to suggesters whose accumulated awards total $10,000 or result in savings to the State of $100,000. In addition, the suggesters become members of an Advisory Board to the Committee. The Advisory Board may be called upon to comment and make recommendations on policy and program promotion.

(i) State "Suggester of the Year" may be selected by the Committee from among the successful submissions of the previous fiscal year and will be suitably recognized as determined by the Committee. The selection from nominations submitted by the Secretary will be based on:

1. Importance of the suggestion on a State and national level;

2. Savings and/or other benefits;

3. Public relations aspects and compatibility of the selection with the character and goals of the program.

(j) Departmental "Suggester of the Year" may be nominated by each department or autonomous agency. The nomination shall be made by the departmental committee with approval of the chief executive officer. The nomination must be approved by the Committee which will designate a uniform award and arrange for its procurement and presentation. Standards in selecting the nomination will be:

1. The suggestion(s) must have been approved during the previous fiscal year;

2. The suggestion(s) must be of importance or value to the agency;

3. The suggester must be an employee of the agency as of the date nominated.

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(a) Recognition for length of service shall be given to all employees upon completion of each five years of employment.

1. Service shall include employment in the career, senior executive or unclassified service in either a regular, provisional, temporary or part-time capacity (part-time service shall be prorated).

2. Years of employment shall be determined in the same manner used to compute annual vacation leave. See N.J.A.C. 4A:6-1.2.

3. Any dispute or question regarding eligible service shall be referred to the Committee for resolution.

4. It shall be the responsibility of each agency to determine the employees eligible for length of service recognition.

(b) Retirement awards shall be given at the time of retirement to all those who have retired from any pension system administered by the State, regardless of the amount of service time. Only one retirement award will be presented to any employee.

1. Any dispute or question regarding eligible service shall be referred to the Committee for resolution.

2. It shall be the responsibility of each agency to determine the employees eligible for retirement awards.

(c) Each department shall review personnel records prior to the close of the fiscal year to determine employees who will be eligible for length of service and/or retirement recognition. Presentation ceremonies shall be the responsibility of each department and shall be conducted at least on a yearly basis.

(d) Length of service and retirement recognition may consist of letters of commendation, certificates, citations, plaques, medals, gift items, or such other awards as the Committee shall determine.

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(a) All State departments and agencies are encouraged to establish and maintain programs for recognition of their own employees for, but not limited to:

1. Attendance;

2. Safety;

3. Productivity;

4. Customer service; and

5. Employee of the year, employee of the month, or similar programs.

(b) Proposals for departmental programs shall be submitted to the Committee, which may approve, disapprove or modify the proposals. Proposals shall describe in detail the categories of awards, eligibility standards, procedures and types and amounts of awards to be given selected employees. Approval shall generally be for a specific duration, after which time the department or agency may seek approval for continuing the programs.

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(a) Any appeals to the Committee which involve matters under this subchapter, including denial of a suggestion award by a departmental committee, shall be filed with the Secretary.

1. All appeals shall be in writing, signed by the person appealing (appellant) or his or her representative and must include the reason for the appeal and the specific relief requested.

2. Unless a different time period is stated, an appeal must be filed within 20 days after either the appellant has notice or should reasonably have known of the decision, situation or action being appealed.

3. The appellant must provide any additional information that is requested, and failure to provide such information may result in dismissal of the appeal.

4. Except where a hearing is required by law or these rules, or where the Committee finds that a material and controlling dispute of fact exists that can only be resolved by a hearing (See N.J.A.C. 1:1-1.1 et seq. for OAL hearing procedures), an appeal will be reviewed on a written record.

5. A party in an appeal may be represented by an attorney, authorized union representative or authorized appointing authority representative. See N.J.A.C. 1:1-5.4 for contested case representation at the Office of Administrative Law.

(b) The Committee may reopen a final decision if new evidence and/or a new argument is presented which, if accepted, would change the outcome. Before reopening is considered, the appellant must satisfy the Committee that it was impossible to present these matters during the original appeal.

(c) If a suggestion is disapproved, and within a two-year period from notice of disapproval appears to have been subsequently implemented, the suggester may appeal the original determination. See N.J.A.C. 4A:6-6.5(c)3.

(d) The Committee shall render the final administrative decision, which shall not be subject to further appeal to the Commissioner or the Merit System Board.

(e) When an agency recommends disapproval of a suggestion award on the basis of absence of causal relationship between the suggestion and implementation, the burden of proof in an appeal shall be on the agency. In all other appeals, the burden of proof shall be on the appellant.

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