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Approved innovation submissions projected to save $35 million

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) -- Approved ideas submitted to the Airmen Powered by Innovation (API) program since it launched in April 2014 are projected to save the Air Force at least $35 million, Air Force Personnel Center officials said.

The API program was created to help gather cost-saving ideas and is a subset initiative to the secretary of the Air Force and the vice chief of staff's Every Dollar Counts campaign. It also combines and streamlines the processes of four legacy improvement programs: Innovative Development through Employee Awareness, Productivity Enhancing Capital Investment, Best Practices and Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century.

"We are averaging more than 100 submissions per month," said Roger Flynt, the AFPC API program manager. "We have already received nearly 3000 submissions. Suggestions approved to date vary in scope and complexity and highlight the ingenuity of our Airmen."

Some API suggestions included the following:

1st Lt. Ariel Green, the 647th Force Support Squadron readiness and plans chief at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, advocated use of steel-toe caps instead of steel-toed boots for fatality search and recovery teams and installation search and rescue teams, because her research indicated that steel-toe caps would offer the same protection as steel-toed boots at a significantly lower cost.

"Many improvements are born of necessity and that's exactly what happened with this idea," Green said.

Her squadron was preparing a search and recovery team for possible air show support when they discovered they could not meet the steel-toed boot uniform requirement due to time and funding constraints. Green's idea allowed the squadron to meet the requirement and reusing the covers is expected to save the Air Force $118,000 per year. Green said she did not consider submitting her idea to API until her commander encouraged her to do so.

"It feels great to know that I made a difference in the squadron and potentially throughout the Air Force. I never imagined a small idea would make such a huge impact," she said.

Master Sgt. Shane Sneary, of the 57th Maintenance Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, said, "There are some folks out there that won't submit their idea because they think they won't be listened to or that their idea is too small and may not matter. I can tell them from personal experience this is not true."

Sneary submitted an idea suggesting improvements for F-16 Fighting Falcon oxygen system bottle testing. His suggestion is expected to save the Air Force $58,000 per year.

"I submitted my idea to API so that if my new process was approved it could possibly be implemented across the Air Force. I want to let my fellow Airmen know that with API any idea - large or small - will be looked at and reviewed. It feels good to know that my idea will have a positive impact at the Air Force level," Sneary said.

Several recent API improvements will make it easier for Airmen to submit their ideas.

According to Flynt, the API program managers have developed an enhanced webpage hosted on the Air Force Portal. The site provides a wealth of information from the latest API approval statistics to tools that can help refine and enhance potential submissions, making it even easier to communicate ideas to improve how the Air Force does business.

Other API site enhancements allow Airmen to search to see if an idea has already been submitted, see previously approved ideas, submit new ideas, check the status of their submissions and view an expanded database of ideas submitted under the previous Air Force IDEA program. Additionally, the page includes monthly reports on process submissions. Finally, Airmen will find a link that enables them to communicate directly with the API team.

Have an idea for a game-changer? No matter how big or small, the API team is looking for good ideas because every Airman needs to make every dollar count.

For more information about API and suggestions submitted to date, go to the Air Force Portal and enter "API" in the search window. To submit an idea, go to https://ipds.afpc.randolph.af.mil. For information about other personnel issues, visit the myPers website.

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