BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
The Air Force announced a new program known as the Squadron Innovation Fund (SIF) designed to fund new ideas. The program was inspired by the success of the 99th Reconnaissance Squadron’s initiative to overcome challenges they experienced while performing their mission independent of leadership oversight.
The program appropriated $64 million to provide units across the Air Force with funding for innovative ideas.
“The Squadron Innovation Fund was set aside Airmen’s ideas, which they would never be able to fund with their squadron budget,” said 1st Lt. David Kirkland 9th Contracting Squadron services and commodities flight commander. “We executed about $720,000 and seven contracts.”
In addition to funding the 99th RS and a plethora of smaller projects, 9th CONS funded major projects for the 13th RS, 12th RS, 9th Security Forces Squadron, and 9th Munitions Squadron, 9th Medical Group, 9th Reconnaissance Wing safety.
“All of the projects went up to the wing and they decided where they wanted to spend the money,” Kirkland said. “The bulk of it needed a contract and it came through commodities and services.”
Funding the contracts required the 9th CONS to do more research than normal since they were all the first of their kind. Even with the added work the unit was able to complete the contracts 75 percent faster than normal.
“This is the first time the Air Force has done this, and we executed every dollar given to us,” said Tech. Sgt. Eric Schmitt, NCOIC services. “As a result, we are going to get more money to continue the program.”
Kirkland anticipates the continuation of the SIF and believes next year they will be able to meet demands even more effectively.
“We know the money is going to drop for SIF, so we can prepare,” Kirkland said. “This allows us to get a list of Airmen’s Ideas and help them develop a way to buy it. Everyone has ideas on how to better perform their mission and this is the pot of money to help them make that happen. I encourage all Airmen to pass along their ideas and to think outside the box, no idea is too crazy.”
9th CONS is optimistic about the future of SIF and are happy they can play a role in improving units’ readiness.
“The innovation fund allows Airmen who have an idea to use brand new technology to solve a problem better than they ever have in the past,” Schmitt said. “It is on every Airman to come up with an innovative idea, to find a way to make our Air Force better, make each other better, and make the mission easier to complete.”