U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

Skip to content

Home / Resources / Legislation, Regulations and Guidance / Directives and Memorandum / Orders

FHWA Personnel Management Manual; Part 1: Personnel Systems & Procedures, Chapter 9 Awards and Employee Recognition, Section 2, Attachment 1: Useful Information Concerning Suggestions
Classification Code Date
M3000.1C February 10, 2006  

Attachment 1: Useful Information Concerning Suggestions


An eligible suggestion is a constructive idea, invention, problem solution, or achievement leading to the improvement of methods, equipment, procedures, or operations. The proposal or accomplishment should contribute directly to economy, efficiency, cost avoidance, mission effectiveness, or energy conservation.


  1. An idea that involves service and benefits to employees over which the Agency has no control, such as the credit union or employee activity matters.

  2. The routine work of taking care of building and grounds, such as repairing, cleaning, replacing, painting, or adjusting.

  3. An idea that, as a matter of record, has been previously considered by management or a problem, which offers no specific solution.

  4. A duplicate idea submitted within the 2-year period following the date the original suggestion was declined.


An award may be granted to an employee for an adopted suggestion, which concerns matters within or outside the employee's job responsibilities. However, if it is within the job expectancy, the idea must be so meritorious as to warrant special recognition.

Determining whether an idea is a suggestion or a part of the individual's job responsibility is one of the most difficult issues for the supervisor or evaluator to decide. The following guidelines may be helpful.

  1. Would the suggester have to go to a higher authority to implement the suggestion? If so, the suggestion is probably eligible.

  2. Is the nature of the suggestion such that the suggester's performance would be judged less than satisfactory if he or she did not make the suggestion? If so, the suggestion is probably not eligible.

  3. Is the suggester expected or required to make suggestions of the type under consideration? For example, a suggestion made by a supervisor affecting his or her work unit is not considered eligible for an award because it is the type of idea expected of a supervisor. However, what is the extent of application? Is there anything beyond the expected scope of the position or unique about this particular suggestion? If the suggestion is related to the job but it extends beyond usual expectations, the suggestion may be eligible.

  4. Does the suggestion fall partially within the area of the suggester's job responsibilities? In this case, it may be eligible.


Even when an idea is declined, the suggester's rights are protected for 2 years. If a declined suggestion is adopted within this period, and if the original conditions pertaining to its adoption has not changed, the suggester will be eligible for award consideration.


Remember that the idea does not have to be unique or original. If it has never been used in the situation for which it is now being suggested, and its use will result in a tangible savings or intangible benefits, then it is a valid suggestion.

Answering these questions might help:

  1. If it was a unique or original idea, what was the amount of originality, creativity, or unusual effort involved?

  2. What about the impact or benefits derived by the idea?

  3. How many offices, jobs, or projects will be affected by the suggestion?


Even if the suggestion is within the suggester's area of responsibility, if it is extremely meritorious in terms of either tangible savings or intangible benefits, then it warrants special recognition. This could be in the form of:

  1. a Superior Accomplishment Award for an approved suggestion;

  2. a Certificate of Appreciation; or

  3. a Letter of Commendation.

Consult with the Suggestion Program Coordinator before recommending any of these forms of recognition.


As the evaluator, you are an important link between management and the suggester. You may be called upon to:

  1. use your good judgment to resolve conflicts of interest, or

  2. augment or even alter a suggester's idea to develop a solution satisfactory to all concerned.

Remember that in addition to the obvious savings of precious resources, the roots of a suggestion system are firmly grounded in the desire of most people to improve the conditions under which they work. People also have a desire to be recognized and respected as individuals for their efforts. Our suggestion system helps to satisfy both those needs.

  1. And you, as an evaluator, hold the key to the success of the program.

PMM Chapter 9, Section 2  |  Attachment 2  |  Attachment 3

Page last modified on October 19, 2015
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000