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Home : News : News
NEWS | April 19, 2010

IDEA program implements suggestions for improvement, pays cash

By Sean Bowlin 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs OL-B

Airmen or Air Force civilians with thoughts on improving processes or saving resources have an outlet to get those thoughts to those who can implement them - and earn up to $10,000 for each approved suggestion.

The Innovative Development through Employee Awareness, or IDEA, program, administered by the 902nd Force Support Squadron's manpower and organization flight, evaluates about 200 "IDEAs" yearly, said Adam Liebel, 902nd FSS manpower analyst.

"Of all Air Education and Training Command bases, Randolph Air Force Base processes the most IDEAs," added Mr. Liebel. "Ninety-nine percent of the eligible IDEAs are approved."

Mr. Liebel's colleague, Christine Buchholz, 902nd FSS manpower analyst, said approved IDEAs she's seen have ranged from the simple to the highly technical.

"I've seen IDEAs come in about adding stop and yield signs on streets and wheelchair ramps on buildings here," Ms. Buchholz said. "Then there was the guy who fixed aircraft and noted that there were discrepancies in technical orders--and earned a total of $15,000."

Ms. Buchholz said submitted IDEAs have to state the current method, procedure, task, directive or policy and explain the new, proposed method by stating the problem with the current method and why it should be changed. A detailed description or solution on how to change the current method or implement the IDEA must also be given.

Ms. Buchholz said if base-level evaluators can implement the IDEA, then they have the authority to approve or disapprove it. If they don't have that authority, base-level evaluators must recommend approval or disapproval before sending the IDEA to major command level. Throughout the evaluation process, all involved - the submitter, his supervisor, the unit point of contact, evaluator and analyst -- receive electronic notification of where the IDEA is in the evaluation process.

Submitters, said Ms. Buchholz, can check the status of their IDEAs on line 24 hours a day. IDEAs can be reviewed complete with evaluations and comments from superiors.
When the IDEA is approved, submitters get an e-mail notification and the appropriate manpower analyst on the submitter's base prepares the required paperwork for payment, Ms. Buchholz said. If the award is more than $2,000, the submitter's commander can recognize him at a commander's call or staff meeting.

Anyone can submit an IDEA, Ms. Buchhholz said. But only Airmen and Air Force civil servants are eligible for cash awards.

For convenience, Ms. Buchholz said IDEAs can be submitted via computer to For additional information about the Air Force's IDEA program, contact the 902nd FSS Manpower and Organization office at 652-8951.