SAN ANTONIO (AFPN) -- An airman from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., and another from Patrick AFB, Fla., each earned a coveted $10,000 cash award for suggestions submitted through the Air Force’s Innovative Development through Employee Awareness program.
Staff Sgts. Nick Bugni and Al-Quaddir Vines received their checks for the “tangible savings” to the Air Force, according to program officials.
Bugni is an air reserve technician assigned to the 349th Equipment Maintenance Squadron at Travis. Vines is assigned to the 45th Communication Squadron at Patrick.
Bugni suggested an improved way to remove and replace horizontal stabilizer pivot pins on T-tails of C-5 Galaxys.
“I’ve submitted dozens of suggestions in the past for different cost-saving ideas,” Bugni said. “I never thought I’d receive the maximum amount of money from the Air Force like I did -- it paid off this time.”
The idea paid off for the Air Force as well. His suggestion will save the Air Force about $133,000 annually.
In January 2002, Bugni watched a depot team from Robins AFB, Ga., on the Travis flightline. They removed and replaced a pivot pin on a C-5 -- a procedure that took three hours. He took pictures and notes of the procedure. After it was replaced, the engineers explained that the process could be completed safely in the field. They said he should submit a suggestion to add the job to a technical order so maintainers at bases could replace the part.
“As I thought about all the travel, lodging and man hours that could be saved if we took care of this fix here, it became obvious there could be a huge savings to the Air Force and we wouldn’t have to wait (sometimes weeks) for a depot team to fly here to make the repairs,” Bugni said.
Not only were time, travel and man hours saved, but before Bugni’s suggestion, many components were disconnected and removed unnecessarily before replacing the pivot pin.
Since steps cut out that were not necessary for the procedure, maintainers do not have to rely on as much equipment, either. That also saves money, he said.
“The IDEA program is a great opportunity for people to improve processes throughout the Air Force, saving valuable time and money,” Bugni said.
Bugni said he plans to take his co-workers out to lunch and take his wife on a cruise after he receives his money.
In the Patrick suggestion, Vines saved the 45th Space Wing and its mission partners an estimated $303,607 by training airmen in his office how to program and install land-mobile radios.
"Maintenance of the radios was contracted, but the programming and installing was outside the contract," said Vines. "If we could program, remove and install the radios ourselves, we wouldn't have to pay the contractor extra money for extra services."
There are more than 3,000 radios at Patrick and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, according to Vines. While the radio contract provides basic maintenance, the contractor would charge the wing an additional $65 for each radio they programmed and installed.
Vines saw it as an opportunity to save the government money while providing his office, mainly managers who do not normally do technical installation, some real hands-on work.
"I noticed the way we paid for the extra services from the contractor, and I said to myself, 'We could save money doing it ourselves,'" said Vines, who learned how to program and install the radios during a deployment to Kuwait.
Vines visited Patrick’s IDEA program manager. During his visit, Vines said he never expected he would soon have a $10,000 check in his hands.
"(His idea) was very rewarding to the unit and the wing," said Alexandria Mullins, the program manager. "(The) $10,000 is just a drop in the bucket compared to the over $300,000 the wing would have spent. It makes me feel great, especially when we give out the money."
Vines said he has been trying to save the Air Force money his entire career.
"That was the main goal, saving the wing money," he said. "This was the first time I've used the IDEA program. Alexandria was great. She practically held my hand through the entire process."
"If you see something wrong, try to fix it," Vines said. "You owe it to the Air Force and yourself."
Vines said he is going to take a much-needed vacation with his wife and wisely invest the rest of his award.
"If you have an idea, go for it," he said. "It was the easiest $10,000 I've ever made."
Under the IDEA program, Air Force officials give cash awards to airmen and federal civilian employees for sharing their ideas on how to save the Air Force money. Cash awards range from $200 up to $10,000. (Tech. Sgt. Scott King and 1st Lt. Warren Comer contributed to this report)