Think small, save big – Harnessing employees’ collective brainpower to reduce costs

Source: Jenni Spinner, Public Works, Vol. 141 no. 7, June 2010

Budget shortfalls are nothing new to public agencies, and they’re all too familiar to Michigan’s Genesee County Parks and Recreation Commission (GCPRC).

McMillan called her team together for a brainstorming session, encouraging employees at every level to spout out ideas that would save just $10 a year. The group started the session with the aim of creating 60 ideas in 60 minutes. But when their hour was up, they’d generated 80 ideas, ranging from reducing the frequency of mowings in some areas, using e-mail rather than the U.S. Postal Service to share information, and letting field employees wear their own jeans rather than agency-purchased uniform pants.

A number of the ideas were put in place that, combined, were expected to save $40,000 over one year. Instead, they saved four times that: $167,000.

The following measures have been taken as result of the cost-cutting ideas generated by the staff of Genesee County Parks.

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