Civilians submit cost-saving suggestions, win $10,000 Published Dec. 2, 2009 By Airman 1st Class Joe McFadden 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Three civilians received $10 thousand checks for their cost-saving suggestions based on their observations at work at Hurlburt Field Dec. 2. Kevin Bennett, an equipment specialist with the 1st Special Operations Maintenance Operations Squadron, Dennis Bragg, an equipment specialist with Air Force Special Operations Command, and William Walter, an analyst with AFSOC, sent their respective proposals to the Innovative Development through Employee Awareness Program. "Although it is an Air Force-wide program, this is what being a Commando is all about: getting the mission done while thinking of ways to do it better and save money," said Master Sgt. Thomas Maxwell, IDEA program manager for Hurlburt Field with the 1st Special Operations Force Support Squadron. "The top three selected ideas combined saved more than $15 million alone." Mr. Bennett noticed that the infrared detection systems were being damaged during shipping and storage due to improper packing materials, resulting in $133,800 in damages a year. "Parts kept coming in for repair improperly packaged and with various degrees of damage," Mr. Bennett said. "So I made a business case to have cases purchased with special packaging instructions. My goal was for the system program office to consider a common transport case for these critical assets." His idea was to use a specialized reusable container that would protect against any damages. The commonly used case was purchased and after implementing his idea, no systems were damaged, resulting in a savings of $124,488. Mr. Bragg noticed that the current tactical shelters being used in AFSOC had a sustainment cost of more than $30 thousand each with a lifespan of 20 years. "The maintenance cost for each shelter was almost as much as simply replacing them," Mr. Bragg said. "I saw that other bases like Hill Air Force Base used composite shelters with smaller costs that were being used on worldwide deployments." His idea was to replace the existing shelters with newer ones that had only a six thousand dollar sustainment cost and a 30 year lifespan. The proposed change produced $24 thousand in savings per shelter totaling more than $6.7 million in its total lifespan. Mr. Walter noticed that AFSOC is the only user of the 40mm Bofors cannon in the Department of Defense. Annually, the cannon fires more than 85 thousand rounds during training missions at a cost of $35.7 million. AFSOC currently has more than 350 thousand rounds in storage however they cannot be used for training, because they do not leave visible markings upon impact. "Instead of building a brand new round, why don't we just modify the rounds we already have?" Mr. Walter said. "If we can decrease cost and increase capability by adaptation, we win one battle." Mr. Walter developed a procedure to convert the ineffective rounds into leaving an impact signature when fired. The cost of this conversion is $21.6 million, saving more than $14 million in the first year alone. When they were presented their checks, all three men said they were delighted to help the community save more money. "My loyalty is to the mission and those operators down range now and in the future. Getting the money is nice, but, to modify an old country saying, 'The money is the gravy, but the mission is the biscuit'-- that's what's important," Mr. Walter said. "I heard about IDEA after getting original approval for the change. It was sort of an afterthought, but getting this check feels pretty good. My wife has plans to tile the kitchen," Mr. Bragg said. "This is the largest award I've received. I'll be keeping my ideas flowing, that's for sure," Mr. Bennett said. The IDEA program was designed as an incentive program to reward submitters for approved ideas that benefit the Air Force and government by enhancing processes or improving productivity and efficiency. For more information about the program or to submit an idea, contact Sergeant Maxwell at (850) 884-4034 or visit https://ipds.randolph.af.mil.