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Administrative Policy and Procedures Manual
Section 800: Financial Affairs
850.3 Employee and Student Incentive Awards Policy
Effective: January 7, 2003

I. Introduction and Program Description

The employee and student (hereinafter referred to as employee/student) incentive awards program at Montana State University-Northern is modeled after the Incentive Award Program created by a special session of the Montana Legislature in November 1993. The administrative rules to implement that legislation became effective in September 1994.

In fall 2002, the Montana Board of Regents and the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education for the State of Montana asked each unit of the Montana University System to develop an incentive program for its employees/students. The directive specified that each campus' program "…..should be consistent with the employee incentive program that is outlined in state statute at 2-18-1101, (Montana Codes Annotated), and should allow participation by students." A model policy from the personnel division of the State of Montana was suggested as a possible guide.

That model was used to develop the following policy at Montana State University-Northern (hereinafter referred to as MSU-Northern.)

The incentive awards program rewards outcomes and achievements which can be documented, rather than ideas or suggestions for future improvements to MSU-Northern's operations. To give this policy viability, program administrators at MSU-Northern are encouraged to implement ideas or suggestions as part of regular, ongoing management of the institution. An idea or suggestion becomes eligible to be nominated for an award when it is implemented or when documented achievements and outcomes can be determined. Recognition is also possible for improving the effectiveness of MSU-Northern or improving services to the public by permitting more work to be accomplished within the institution without increasing the cost of operations.

MSU-Northern will administer this program without the assistance or oversight of any other entity of state government in Montana. The chancellor at MSU-Northern will have final authority to grant incentive awards and determine their monetary value.

Nominations for awards may come from current employees/students at MSU-Northern, from employees of other State of Montana agencies, and from any other person. Individual employees/students at MSU-Northern, and groups or teams of employees/students at MSU-Northern, may be nominated for the awards. According to the model policy proposed by the State personnel division, persons who are not employed by MSU-Northern may also be nominated.

The Chancellor may approve up to $500, or up to 40 hours of paid leave, for an award for which a documented value cannot be calculated.

The Chancellor may approve an award, using the guidelines under section VI. A. 2. of this policy, for an achievement or outcome with a documented value.

As a normal part of their duties, employees are encouraged to take responsibility for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of their own areas. Those efforts by classified employees may be recognized through the MAP program. Ideas generated that are above and beyond the normal scope of the employee's responsibilities could be recognized through this Employee and Student Incentive Awards Program, if the suggestion is so meritorious as to warrant special recognition.

II. Definitions

  1. "Employee" is defined in section 2-18-1101 of the Montana Codes Annotated as follows: "an employee of the executive, legislative or judicial branch or the Montana university system."
  2. "Group or team of employees" is defined in section 2-18-1101 of the Montana Codes Annotated as follows: "a group, team or work unit of employees working cooperatively."

III. Program Coordinator

  1. The program coordinator for the employee incentive awards program at MSU-Northern is the director of employee relations, (hereinafter referred to as the program coordinator.) That program coordinator's address is: Cowan Hall, Montana State University-Northern, Havre, MT 59501; and the telephone number is (406) 265-3710.
  2. The program coordinator is responsible for the following activities:
    1. receiving nominations for awards;
    2. notifying nominees of the status of their nomination;
    3. maintaining a tracking system for award nominations;
    4. assisting a standing committee to evaluate and prioritize nominations for awards;
    5. promoting the program within MSU-Northern;
    6. arranging presentation ceremonies, including obtaining the monetary awards;
    7. publicizing awards at MSU-Northern and with the media;
    8. preparing the annual report of awards' activity for the State of Montana Department of Administration;
    9. making or arranging a reasonable accommodation to participate in the program, if one is requested;
    10. any other duty associated with this program assigned by the Chancellor.

IV. Procedure to Nominate Individuals, Groups or Teams

  1. As part of the ongoing process of managing MSU-Northern, employees/students at the institution, employees of other State of Montana agencies, and other persons, may submit ideas or suggestions which could contribute to the efficiency, economy or other improvement of MSU-Northern. Implementation of these ideas or suggestions is at the discretion of the appropriate manager at MSU-Northern. An implemented idea or suggestion could be nominated for an incentive award based on documentation of any outcome or achievement that occurs. MSU-Northern may want to document ideas or suggestions when submitted, although this action would precede any actual review by the incentive award program itself.
  2. A nomination for an incentive award may be submitted on a form provided by the program coordinator or in another written format. The form provided by the program coordinator is attached to this policy as Appendix I.
  3. Individual employees/students, groups or teams of employees/students, other State of Montana employees and any other person may submit award nominations for consideration.
    1. Nominations must include the following information to be considered:
      1. name, address and telephone number of the person(s) submitting the nomination;
      2. name(s), or groups or teams, of employees/students nominated for the award;
      3. description of how the outcome, achievement or savings 1) exceeds normal expectations for the employee/student, or group of employees/students; or has an impact on the delivery of services to the public; or directly and to what degree contributes to MSU-Northern's objectives, goals and mission;
      4. the dollar value of the documented savings, including the method used to determine the value;
      5. signature(s) of the submitter(s) and the date submitted.
    2. The program coordinator will date stamp each nomination, which will become the official receipt date of the nomination. The program coordinator will notify the submitter(s) that the nomination has been received. The program coordinator may request additional information from submitter(s) in order to evaluate the nomination.
    3. Nominations for incentive awards are public information and available for review.
  4. The following employees at MSU-Northern are not eligible to receive an incentive award under this program, and therefore, should not be nominated: the chancellor, the provost and senior vice chancellor, the vice chancellor for finance and administration/student affairs, the registrar, any person holding a director position, and the chairs/deans.

V. Evaluation and Prioritization of Nominations for Awards

  1. The Chancellor makes the final decision to grant an incentive award. The Chancellor resolves any and all disputes related to granting an incentive award.
  2. The Chancellor will appoint five (5) members to a standing Incentive Award Committee and name a chairperson from those five (5) members. The Committee members serve at the pleasure of the Chancellor.
  3. The Committee will conduct an initial evaluation of all incentive award nominations, determine if the nominations are applicable to MSU-Northern, and prioritize the nominations for incentive awards.
  4. In making its decisions concerning applicability and priority, the Committee will make non-binding recommendations to the Chancellor concerning:
    1. approval or disapproval of a nomination for an award; and
    2. an appropriate monetary or leave award.
  5. The Committee will use the criteria set out in Appendix II of this policy to evaluate and prioritize nominations.
  6. The Committee may request additional assistance from other MSU-Northern employees, other State employees, and/or any person or group able to provide information necessary to make an informed recommendation.
  7. The Committee will meet as nominations are received, but no more than once a month. Minutes of the meeting will be kept. Meetings of the Committee are open to the public.
  8. The Committee will document, in writing, the evaluation and priority for each award, along with its recommendation to approve or disapprove the nomination.
  9. If the Committee determines that the nomination is not applicable to Montana State University-Northern, the Committee may:
    1. return the nomination to the submitter(s) with an explanation for why it is not applicable; or
    2. after consultation with the program coordinator in another State agency to which the nomination may apply, refer the nomination to that agency and notify the submitter(s) of that action.
  10. If the Committee determines that a nomination may be applicable to MSU-Northern and another State agency or agencies, the Committee may recommend that the program coordinator make contact with program coordinators at the other State agencies to determine if they would benefit from the nomination and would like to participate in funding the final award. Such a determination, and the outcome of discussions with other State agencies, will be included in the recommendation of the Committee to the Chancellor.

VI. Types of Incentive Awards

  1. Two types of incentive awards are available under this program.
    1. The first is an award for an achievement or outcome that does not result in cost savings that can be specifically determined a year after the achievement or outcome is implemented and the cost savings actually incurred.
      1. In this situation, the Chancellor may award a maximum of $500 or the Chancellor may award a maximum of 40 hours of paid leave time for an employee.
      2. Larger awards may be proposed and submitted to the Montana Legislature for consideration.
    2. The second is an award for an achievement or outcome producing cost savings that can be measured after the savings are actually incurred. The Chancellor may grant an award that may not exceed:
      1. 10% of the first $100,000 of cost savings actually incurred during the 12 months following implementation of the suggestion; plus
      2. 5% of the next $100,000 of cost savings actually incurred during that 12-month period; plus
      3. 2% of the next $100,000 of cost saving actually incurred during that 12-month period.
  2. If an award, described in section VI.A. above, is to be divided between two or more persons, the Chancellor will determine the amount each person is to receive.

VII. Presentation of Awards

  1. The Chancellor will make the final decision regarding the adoption of an incentive award and the amount of the award.
  2. The incentive award Committee, described in section V. above, will compile its evaluations and priority recommendations for awards, and forward that information to the Chancellor no later than March 1 and September 1 of each year.
  3. If the Chancellor decides to make an award, under this policy, that presentation will take place during the following April or October of each year.
  4. The employee/student incentive awards will be presented at a public ceremony on the campus of MSU-Northern. Names of award recipients will be inscribed on a plaque which will be displayed in Cowan Hall on the campus of MSU-Northern.
  5. The list of awards set out in section 2-18-1106, Montana Codes Annotated, will be prepared by the program coordinator and will be provided to the Montana Department of Administration on the format prescribed by the Department within 30 days of the end of each fiscal year.

VIII. Closing

  1. This policy supplements sections 2-18-1101 et seq. of the Montana Codes Annotated; and sections 2.21.6701 et seq. of the Administrative Regulations of Montana, also known as the Incentive Award Policy.
  2. MSU-Northern will make reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities who wish to participate in the Incentive Award Program. To request an accommodation, contact the program coordination at MSU-Northern, c/o of the director of employee relations, Cowan Hall, MSU-Northern, Havre, MT 5950l. The telephone number for that office is (406) 265-3710.

APPENDIX I : Nomination Form for The Employee/Student Incentive Award Program At Montana State University-Northern

APPENDIX II : Criteria to Evaluate and Prioritize Nominations for The Employee/Student Incentive Award Program At Montana State University-Northern

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