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NEWS | Dec. 7, 2012

Bright IDEAs help Airmen, Air Force

By Airman 1st Class R. Alex Durbin 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

With the holiday season in full swing, many people would enjoy a little extra money in their pockets. Luckily for Airmen, a program is available that offers a chance to not only to gain some spending money, but save the U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense valuable resources and time.

The Innovative Development through Employee Awareness, or IDEA, program encourages creative thinking and ideas that streamline processes or improve productivity and efficiency. It was designed to recognize and reward individuals whose suggestions improve the efficiency, economy and effectiveness of Air Force, Department of Defense and federal government operations.

In the year 2012 alone, 64 ideas from local Airmen have been validated, totaling over $12,000 in awards paid out, and over $300,000 in savings to Langley Air Force Base.

"The IDEA program gives Air Force military and civilian personnel the opportunity to provide a fresh look at old ideas," said Michelle Johnson, 633rd Force Support Squadron management analyst. "Service members can improve they ways they work - and get paid for it."

All Airmen and federal civilian employees, Air Force Academy cadets, Reserve Officer Training cadets, reserve personnel on active duty orders, Air National Guard Title 5 USC employees and Direct-hire non-US citizen employees may submit ideas - and are eligible for monetary awards.

Contractor personnel, retired personnel and Air National Guard Title 32 Service members may also submit ideas. However, they are not eligible for monetary awards.

Eligible ideas must be the submitter's own thought, or a new application of an old principle, and be submitted with the intent to benefit the Air Force. Applicants must explain the proposed method by stating the problem with the current method, why it should be changed and show how the new idea is beneficial to the Air Force.

Once an idea is submitted it is reviewed by a Manpower Agency employee at the Air Force personnel center. If the idea is approved at the Manpower Agency, it is sent to an operational setting for evaluation. If the evaluators approve the idea, it can be implemented world-wide.

If a military member or civilian employee has an approved idea that saves money or resources, a percentage of the Air Force's estimated first-year savings is given as a reward. Monetary awards are granted for both tangible and intangible savings. Amounts awarded can reach a maximum of $10,000. Non-monetary awards are presented with an idea certificate when an approved idea does not meet the monetary award criteria.

Although the program offers monetary awards for approved ideas, Johnson believes helping the Air Force and its personnel is its own reward.
"By submitting ideas, participants help all Airmen world-wide," said Johnson. "Giving back to your country and service is the right thing to do."

Individuals, teams or groups may submit ideas through the IDEA Program Data System at