U.S. Army Corps of Engineers personnel came together, Oct. 21-24, to take part in a three-day, multi-district, innovation-themed summit, hosted by the Allatoona Lake Project Office, Cartersville, Ga.

Led by Jason Knight and co-chaired by Abby Jones, both USACE-Tulsa District natural resource management specialists, the summit included more than 20 participants, representing 9 USACE Districts from across the Nation.

According to Knight, the team's focus is planning and developing technological innovations for the benefit of all USACE personnel working in support of public land management.

"Our Innovations Summit, held annually in October, is open to all USACE employees," said Knight. "Summits are also open to our partners if they are interested in joining together with us to improve the way we operate."

As the team continues to grow, Knight acknowledges changes will have to be made to accommodate the expanding program.

"Right now there are at least 10 other Districts interested in joining the team," said Knight. "With that in mind, I see a boost in the number of team members for Season 5 in 2021, as well as an increase in innovation proposals."

According to Jones the value of the annual summit is in bringing members together at a single location to present innovative ideas and then, as a team, vote on which proposals are chosen to move forward for fielding and execution.

One such initiative is already up and running.

Dubbed "Bid Assist," this innovation was designed to help the general public navigate through the complicated process of obtaining a Cage Code to bid on U.S. government contracts.

According to Natural Resource Specialist Sarah Noel, "Bid Assist" was fielded to serve as a one-stop-shop to assist the public in filling out the proper forms to submit bid packets to USACE contracting offices.

"We also provide contact information for Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers," said Noel. "Funded by the government, PTAC is an organization created to assist the general public in navigating through the contract bidding process."

For her efforts, Noel received the 2019 USACE National Innovator of the Year Award and the 2019 Impact Innovator of the Year Award.

"The innovations team has been a great outlet for me to try and change our daily processes for the better," added Noel. "Where some may get discourage or gripe about their circumstances, I feel that energy is better served to find a solution."

"Ultimately, our goal is to improve the way we operate by leveraging the latest technologies to streamline the way we work and interface with the public," said Jones.

Operations Project Manager Jerry Fulton said it was an honor to host the Innovations Summit at Allatoona Lake.

"I'm inspired by the ideas being presented here this week and look forward to being a pilot project so I have a chance to see the full implementation and resulting benefits that such projects will do to further enhance mission execution," added Fulton.

// U.S. Army story by Stacey Reese and Edward N. Johnson //