WASHINGTON (AFNS) — As the Air Force continues to adapt to current fiscal challenges, the service is scrutinizing every dollar spent on mission, personnel, and readiness.
To do this, the Air Force is examining every policy, purchase, practice and procedure to identify potential cost savings.
Lt. Gen. Michael Basla, the Air Force Chief, Information Dominance and Chief Information Officer, said Airmen are up to the challenge.
“What a great opportunity to make positive changes for our Air Force, and who better to do that than our innovative Airmen,” Basla said.
Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Larry Spencer, recently spearheaded an Air Force-wide campaign titled “Every Dollar Counts.” The goal of this initiative was to collect and evaluate ideas and suggestions to save money.
Basla, the leader responsible for reviewing 1,172 information technology-related submissions, is impressed with the response his office received. “My staff and I are evaluating every suggestion and are committed to implementing each idea that saves money or helps us to work smarter,” Basla said.
While it will take time to plow through all inputs, Basla said he and his staff are already making progress by directing cost-cutting measures through the use of enhanced technology to meet mission needs.
Several of the suggestions offer simple solutions to operate more efficiently, offering short implementation times with long-term benefits. Many Airmen noted the Air Force could cut costs associated with unnecessary or inefficient printing.
Capt. Kevin Huwel, from Osan Air Base, Korea, proposed the use of hand-held IT systems to reduce printing costs and improve the environmental footprint of the Air Force.
Lt. Col. David Short, the 51st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander, submitted his idea to increase the use of digital signatures to reduce copying and printing associated with “wet” signatures on official documents such as memos and some enlisted performance reports.
Tech. Sgt. Rhonnell Singleton, from the Air Education and Training Command’s Holm Center for Officer Accessions and Citizen Development, urged the automation of the Junior ROTC application process — an idea that has been reviewed and is ready to implement at the Holm Center.
Basla commented, “At home, most people limit printing and use digital interfaces to the maximum extent possible. We must adopt the same culture at work and find ways to operate more efficiently in the digital world.”
Other ideas are more complex, but have great potential for savings and increased capabilities.
Russ Mayes, who supports the Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, proposed a modification to modem software used in remotely piloted aircraft, specifically the MQ-9 Reaper. The improvement would reduce the amount of bandwidth needed to distribute video feeds. The modification, if applied across the MQ-9 fleet, is estimated to save up to $14 million within the first two years of implementation.
Several Airmen offered ideas on how to cut back on energy costs, such as switching computers to “sleep” mode during periods of inactivity.
Basla said he understands that each cost-cutting idea must be evaluated against mission needs and operational security. For example, reducing the power settings on computers would certainly reduce energy costs; however, some technical hurdles must be overcome so that network security patches and antivirus updates could still be installed on computers.
“We have to balance operational risk against efficiencies,” Basla said.
Basla encourages Airmen to continue “outside the box” thinking, which was evident through their suggestions during the Every Dollar Counts campaign.
“These ideas represent fresh perspectives on efficient ways to do our business,” he said. “Each time we are confronted with a challenge, our Airmen continue to provide smart alternatives to overcome it. This effort is no different. Our innovative Airmen will not rest with the status quo. They creatively seek to find efficient solutions to do the work necessary in defense of this nation.”