Innovation proposal selected as Spark Tank nominee

By Airman 1st Class Jessica Blair | Jan. 18, 2018


Airmen of the 305th Operations Support Squadron submitted an innovation proposal that was selected as a Spark Tank final nominee.

In October, all major commands were asked to come up with ideas to streamline processes in the Air Force and to then solicit those innovative suggestions to compete at the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium, February 2018. The Spark Tank competition is a way for Airmen to get innovative ideas heard and implemented in an effort to maximize efficiency and save the Air Force money.

The 305th Air Mobility Wing Innovation Office networked among the wing’s units to gather ideas that were sent up to Air Mobility Command for consideration.

AMC Airmen collectively submitted 13 proposals, four of which were from the 305th AMW. One of the four innovations submitted was then selected as a final nominee and now awaits further approval and funding at the Air Force level.

Intelligence Airmen of the 305th OSS wanted to modernize the Joint Personnel Adjudication System process, and came up with a feasible solution to increase its overall effectiveness.

“The current process we have is obsolete,” said Senior Airman Billy Scott, 305th OSS operation intelligence analyst. “We are trying to switch over to something more automated to free up more man hours, so we would like to implement scanners just like every other department of the Air Force that can scan (common access cards).”

When briefing large groups, sometimes of 30-40 people, 305th OSS Airmen currently  have to individually process each CAC manually.   

The 305th found an achievable solution to the complaint and then pitched it effectively to affect a major change across the Air Force.

“Imagine if you hand your CAC to the front gate and they had to go back into another room to type in your (Department of Defense identification), date of birth, and name, then come back to say that you’re all cleared to go through the gate,” said Scott. “Just imagine all those cars lined up coming in, so you can kind of see what that looks like, and how the scanners will save time.”

The scanner system would save AMC an estimated $120,000 and the Air Force an estimated $2.4 million a year, said Air Force Capt. Austin Davis, 305th OSS Intelligence Standardization Evaluation Element chief.

The innovation office teams up with the continuous process improvement office to make innovations like these a reality. The office also hopes to create an innovation program called the Phoenix Spark here at Joint Base MDL, to collaborate with subject matter experts to create more innovative projects by incubating ideas, testing and proposing solutions to inefficiencies that Airmen might be having within their units.

 “There is an innovation culture here and you can tell by the fact that people are stepping up to submit their ideas to the wing,” said Sugalski, “Hopefully, with the Phoenix Spark arising here at Joint Base MDL, we will be able to facilitate these ideas faster and more efficiently.”

With the proper resources available, Airmen will be able to elevate ideas and likely make a real difference in their units and work centers.

“A lot of time, being in the military, you can tend to think things are just the way they are,” said Scott. “But the fact that a group of colleagues can get together and present a shared idea to ‘Big Air Force’ and that idea gets implemented.

 “That’s pretty huge and it’s a good feeling knowing your ideas are manifesting.”