Not long ago, Senior Airman Joshua Morgan had an idea for improving how the
Air Force tests the missiles hooked up to F-16 fighter jets at Kunsan Air Base
in South Korea.
Morgan, who works with precision testing gadgets for the 8th Maintenance
Squadron, noticed one piece of equipment gave a bogus reading on how much
moisture might be accumulating inside its casing. It was a big deal because
Kunsan airmen rely on the item, called an infrared target simulator, to test
the condition of missiles.
According to its manual, the simulator's color-coded sensor window would show
white or lavender if too much moisture built up inside the equipment. So when
other colors appeared, airmen didn't take them as signs of moisture.
But Morgan found excessive moisture could trigger certain other colors except
He'd already heard talk around base of an Air Force suggestion program that
seeks ideas for making the Air Force work cheaper, faster, and better. So in
January, Morgan used the program to suggest a fix to the moisture-checking
Called the Innovative Development Through Employee Awareness program — airmen
just call it "the IDEA program" — it will even pay money for suggestions that
An individual who submits an idea that ends up saving the Air Force money
"gets 15 percent of the first year's savings" not to exceed $10,000, said Capt.
Paul Graddon, the 8th Fighter Wing's chief of manpower and organization.
However, if someone's idea for an improvement within his or her immediate set
of job responsibilities saves the Air Force at least $20,000, that airman gets
3 percent of the first-year savings.
Ideas that lead to improvements but not a money savings pay "a flat $200,"
"You log on to a Web page called the Idea Program Data System, or IPDS," he
said. "It's very user-friendly." Airmen are asked to state how a job is done
now, explain their idea, then describe how that would be an improvement.
The unit the idea might help evaluates it and decides whether to adopt it.
Morgan recommended a change in the simulator's testing procedure: to check
for excessive moisture if it registers any color but blue.
A few weeks later, an e-mail arrived saying his idea was awaiting final
approval; a few weeks after that, he learned it had been approved "and they
were getting with finance to have the money deposited in my account." He earned
Morgan said he and his wife "are using it for our new house" when he moves
next month to his next assignment at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
It's caught on with some of his fellow airmen too, he said. "Actually, once
they saw that I had submitted something and how easy it was, they started
looking around to see what they could find to improve."
Since October, Kunsan's personnel have submitted 24 ideas; the previous
fiscal year, 22 were submitted, Graddon said.
The Air Force idea program's Web address is ideas.randolph.af.mil/ipdswarn.html
"I think a lot of our airmen, NCOs, officers and civilians have good ideas,
but they may not know the way to implement them or who owns the process,"
Graddon said. "This ... allows them, if they see something that they think
can be done better, to suggest it."
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