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How to get the Air Force to hear your ideas

Jul. 8, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
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Have an idea to improve morale, increase productivity or save money? If so, the Air Force wants to hear from you.

The new Airmen Powered by Innovation program, which merges previous idea programs, is “set up to take recommendations seriously from our airmen and vet them thoroughly” in order to harness the best ideas the service can use, Air Force spokeswoman Rose Richeson said.

Staff Sgt. Darius Boscarino is one airman whose idea — to improve the PT test — is under consideration. If you have an idea, here’s what you need to know:

1. One program

The Air Force initiated an effort last year to consolidate and streamline four existing “good idea” programs, Richeson said. API was created to “simplify the process for submitting ideas, making it easier for our airmen at the lowest levels to effect change across the entire Air Force,” Air Force deputy chief management officer David Tillotson said in a news release.

2. How it works

Airman can submit ideas at, which are then forwarded to the Air Force Personnel Center. Some airmen are sent to their installation’s Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century office — under the Air Force Office of Business Transformation — for help in fleshing out their ideas so that they can be given greater consideration, said chief of outreach and support for AFSO21 Chief Master Sgt. Jerry Phillips. Some ideas only pertain to a local base and are reviewed by the wing commander, Phillips said. Some ideas are sent to Air Force headquarters for review each quarter.

When an airman hears back depends on the complexity of the idea, Phillips said. “Thirty days is the target time,” he said.

3. The reward

Airmen might be compensated for their ideas, but financial incentives are not guar­anteed, Richeson said. Monetary incentives range from $25 to $10,000.

4. Previous savings

API is a followup to the Every Dollar Counts campaign, which generated $71 million and 24,000 hours in savings annually from 302 implemented ideas airmen submitted in 2013.

“API is more than just another suggestion program,” Air Force Personnel Center API program manager Roger Flynt said in a news release. “We must fundamentally change how we do business at every level of the Air Force and we must watch how we spend every dollar. Nobody is more aware of how much time, effort and money is wasted because of bad processes than the Airmen who do the job every day. That’s who we need to get involved in API.”

5. What's next

Since API launched in April, hundreds of airmen have submitted more than 1,700 ideas, Air Force spokeswoman Capt. Erika Yepsen said.

Those are being reviewed by field experts and decision makers to determine if implementation is feasible, Flynt said. “Some of those ideas may not be accepted, but many will. A good rule of thumb is to suggest ideas that will save money, improve quality or productivity, decrease cycle time, improve processes or improve morale,” he said.

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