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Sat, Jun 21, 2008

Civilian Receives $10,000 For USAF Canopy Repair 'IDEA'

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 repairs."

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 for repairs."

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.]



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