WATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. -- "If I was in charge, we would do things differently." How many times have you thought this same sentiment while at work'

Nevertheless, if being in charge is not in your near-term future, making money on your, "I've got a better way to do it," may be.

According to Paula Martinez and Peggy Teitsch, administrators of the Watervliet Arsenal Suggestion Program, the Army Suggestion Program was established more than 20 years ago to increase the efficiency and productivity within the Army. A lot has changed since the program began as the "Army Ideas for Excellence," but what hasn't changed is the fact that good ideas are profitable, for the organization and for the individual.

Although we do not know how much the tangible savings have been at the Arsenal since the inception of the program, Martinez said that in fiscal year 2008, the Arsenal had savings of more than $89,000 due to suggestions from the workforce. This savings resulted in nearly $10,000 of payments to Arsenal employees. Roughly 50 percent of the ideas recommended last year were adopted.

But what might not be clearly understood is why more worker don't add their two cents into trying to improve the Arsenal or their pocket book. There were only 109 suggestions last year at the Arsenal.

Given that one may provide a suggestion for a tangible benefit that results in a direct saving, cost avoidance, or an increased output at the same cost, there are probably hundreds of suggestion opportunities at the Arsenal each year.

Additionally, a suggestion does not have to produce a tangible benefit, such as a cost savings, said Martinez. A suggestion may provide an intangible benefit that may affect the Arsenal's functions, mission, or its personnel.

For example, a suggestion that improves workforce safety may be difficult to determine a tangible cost savings to the Arsenal, but Martinez can estimate a value to these types of suggestions, which then might qualify an individual for a cash payment.
Teitsch added another possible reason as to why the Arsenal workforce does not submit more suggestions.

"There may be a perception that it takes a significant amount of time between the point when someone submits a suggestion until when they find out whether or not their suggestion has been approved," said Teitsch.

Nevertheless, Teitsch easily negates that thought by highlighting the Arsenal's 27-day average evaluation and process time for the past fiscal year.

In late April 2009, Col. Scott N. Fletcher, Arsenal commander, recognized two long-time Arsenal employees for their suggestions to improve the installation.

Thomas P. Ryan, Manufacturing Division, received a check for $2,127 for his suggestion to modify furnace operations and procedures, which significantly reduced the heating requirements for tube manufacturing.

Gerald R. Hinman, Manufacturing Division, received a check for $1,336 for his suggestion to change tooling operations that dramatically reduced set-up time for inspections.
Despite these efforts by Ryan and Hinman, Fletcher commented that there is much work to do to improve the Arsenal's Suggestion Program.

"Every day there are improvements at the Arsenal, but we do not do a good job capturing and promoting these efforts. Which, by the way, translate that we are continuously improving our operations," said Fletcher.

Despite the great success of Ryan and Hinman, Martinez said she is still waiting for the one significant suggestion that may reach the top cash award of $25,000.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16