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2020 Vice Chief’s Challenge winners announced

The 2020 Vice Chief’s Challenge launched in February with a focus on working faster and smarter, and finding innovative ways to give Airmen back their time.

The 2020 Vice Chief’s Challenge "Saving Airmen Time" results were announced Feb. 22, 2021. The 15 winning submissions were selected for their innovative approach to work faster, smarter, and ability to find ways for giving Airmen back their time. (U.S. Air Force courtesy graphic)

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) --

The 2020 Vice Chief’s Challenge "Saving Airmen Time" results were announced Feb. 22. The 15 winning submissions were selected for their innovative approach to work faster, smarter, and ability to find ways for giving Airmen back their time.

The challenge, which launched in February 2020, focused on identifying time-consuming tasks that provide the least direct value to generating combat effects; proposing innovative solutions to streamline current processes through the novel application of technology; and partnering directly with Headquarters Air Force to bring Airmen’s voices to ongoing efforts, including solution-generation and beta-testing of cutting-edge technologies that return time to Airmen.

Participants submitted ideas to the Vice Chief’s Challenge via the Airmen Powered by Innovation platform.

“We asked for our Airmen’s help in identifying and eliminating drains on time that do not directly contribute to warfighting readiness — and our Airmen delivered,” said Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. David Allvin. “The response to this challenge was impressive. I want to thank everyone who participated and congratulate the winners as we take the next steps to prototype and, where warranted, position their ideas to scale more broadly across the USAF.”

Proposals were initially evaluated along a Department of the Air Force return of investment model, based on Airmen’s inputs and expert knowledge on the Air Staff. Winners were then selected based on highest ROI and a wide range of other factors helped identify projects with broad appeal and the highest probability of delivering game-changing impact towards saving Airmen time through automation, adjustment of policies/processes, or elimination of menial tasks.

“Operating in an environment characterized by peer competition requires unleashing our Airmen to think differently and leverage their tremendous talents,” Allvin said. “In the past years we’ve been doing incredible things, but the Air Force of today is not the one that will win tomorrow. We need to Accelerate Change or Lose. We need a lot of things to make that possible, but none are as valuable as the insights of our Airmen. They are key to providing the whitespace to get after our hardest problems."

The 2020 Vice Chief’s Challenge winners are:

Lt. Col. Mary Magnum from Air Education Training Command

  • Finance Customer Service Chatbot - Provides an online live customer service function. Customers will be able to complete finance requirements through an online chat. The software will be programmed to answer common questions and route customers to the appropriate team. It also has the potential to integrate artificial intelligence and answer more complicated questions.

Lt. Col. Jared Jurgensmeier from Air Force Reserve Command

  • Update Advanced Distributed Learning System Training – Economizes the "video game" style Cyber Awareness Challenge to save thousands of hours per year. This approach could be taken to a myriad of other training modules, saving thousands of hours more that could be put towards mission training.

Lisa Williams from Air Mobility Command

  • Exceptional Family Member Program One Stop - Co-locates all EFMP services. It would include a school liaison specialist and contract for an EFMP specialist/navigator to provide direct advocacy & education/training for families. This will eliminate the need for families to "self-route" through EFMP-M & EFMP-FS systems, provide a mechanism for quick capture and aid to families in crisis, as well as increase communications between all EFMP elements.

Master Sgt. Justin Bower from Air Combat Command

  • A personally designed heating element used for C-130 wheel overhaul. It doesn't require any heavy lifting on the repairman's part and can be used in any facility with a standard 100 Volt power receptacle with no other support equipment needed.

Lt. Col. Michael Ress from Air Education Training Command

  • Automated Flying Squadron Scheduling Software - Forecasts and builds tailored flying schedules based on the requirements of not only the flying unit, but individual pilots based upon qualifications, upgrade syllabus, etc.

Theresa Rogers from Air Force Material Command

  • Master Asset and Vulnerability Tracking System - Automates scanning of active assets on the network in order to generate a consolidated and near-real time inventory and vulnerability/risk assessment solution, that could be used to maintain continuous cybersecurity monitoring and asset tracking.

Maj. Joseph Oletti from Air Force Material Command

  • AFH 33-337 Tongue and Quill Microsoft Word templates – Digital template files for commonly accessed and formatted documents.

Master Sgt. Alvah Mills from Air Force Special Operations Command

  • Enlisted Performance Report opt-out – Allows Airmen who are separating or retiring to actively select whether or not to receive an EPR, similar to how Airmen have to actively choose to sell or keep leave when re-enlisting.

Tech. Sgt. Tyler Givens from Air Mobility Command

  • Automation/Innovation Teams - Cross-functional teams at several levels in the organization that assist in bringing ideas to fruition, especially in the areas of automation and digitalization.

Senior Master Sgt. Jessica Reilly from the Air National Guard

  • In/Out-Processing (Base/Wings/Units - PCS/Deployments/Schools) – Personally identifiable information protected program with upload capabilities to accomplish out/in-processing actions.

Maj. Eric Newman from Headquarters Air Force

  • Automating Data for the Air Force Child Care Program - Automates data collection, stores it in a secure environment, and makes the data available through interactive user dashboards provided to commanders, staffs, and senior leaders to make informed, accurate, and timely decisions to fix systemic problems in the program. This system would gather enrollment data from sign-ins/outs, building use data, waitlist data, and FCC and fee assistance use data.

Staff Sgt. Devin Platt from Air Force Global Strike Command

  • Protective cover for Launch Facility - Launcher closure mag switch that uses a sheet of metal to cover the entire mag switch enclosure, ensuring proper fit and integrity.

Staff Sgt. Jordyn Fetter from Air Force District of Washington

  • Updated Fitness Report Link on Air Force Fitness Management System II - Revamps the software entirely to improve the user experience.

First Lt. Nicholas Forrest from Headquarters Air Force

  • Consolidating and Automating New Member Onboarding - Creates an onboarding platform to provide new members with base/organization resources, training links, and a consolidated list of new member information input fields. Upon submission, Robotic Process Automation software can be used to rapidly auto-fill all paperwork, send paperwork to corresponding mailboxes via email, process new member data and input into various internal systems, and send confirmation email to new members for reassurance.

Master Sgt. Samuel Spaethe from Air Force Personnel Center

  • Standardizing additional duty appointment and retention processes by Robotic Process Automation.