A civilian's suggestion to let the
base egress shop repair F-16 Fighting Falcon canopies instead of
sending them off base earned him $10,000 and will save the Air
Force more than $1 million. Robert Watts, an ordnance inspector
with Edwards AFB's 412th Maintenance Squadron, received a check
June 11 for his suggestion submitted to the Innovative Development
through Employee Awareness, or IDEA, program.
"Procedures before did not allow us to make changes to a canopy
or to order any part to fix it ourselves," Mr. Watts said. "My
suggestion to the IDEA program will allow us to get the job done
locally and save the Air Force money."
The IDEA program is an avenue for active-duty military and
civilians to submit ideas on ways to work smarter, with suggestions
often resulting in financial savings to the Air Force.
When Mr. Watts came up with his idea, he first discussed it with
his supervisor. After his supervisor's approval, he submitted his
idea to the IDEA program online.
"Mr. Watts' idea was a typical example of putting in an idea
that has long-term savings for the Air Force," said Steve McQueen,
the IDEA program manager. "His proposal, in a nutshell, allowed a
piece of instrumentation to be repaired locally versus sent back to
the depot or buying new parts. They can now repair a component
locally at a fraction of what it would have cost to send it out for
When Mr. Watts submitted his idea through the IDEA program, he
knew his idea would get accepted, but he said he did not expect to
be rewarded with $10,000.
"I knew I had a strong idea, but I never did the cost analysis
to see how much we would be saving," Mr. Watts said. "I didn't
think that far ahead. Somebody did though, and now I can see that
it costs the Air Force a lot of money to send these components out
Mr. McQueen said Mr. Watts is an example of the possibilities
that can happen when people help the Air Force.
"I definitely encourage people to submit their ideas," Mr.
McQueen said. "The IDEA program is not structured where you have to
just submit an idea that saves money. It can actually be an idea
that saves time that doesn't have any tangible benefits like Mr.
Watts' idea. Anytime you submit an idea that doesn't result in
savings for the Air Force, we will still pay for that intangible
benefit." [ANN Salutes Senior Airman Stacy Sanchez, 95th Air Base
Wing Public Affairs for the story.]