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Innovation leads to solutions, processes with iHub

AFICC/KU iHub

The U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa Contracting Center-Europe created the iHub website as a process that ensures innovative ideas can be repeated, scaled and utilized by many before being shared with a wider audience. Through iHub, users can submit their innovations or ideas, view the status and stages of submitted innovations, and have access to the necessary documentation or processes on all innovations that have been proven to be repeatable, scalable and implementable throughout USAFE-AFAFRICA. (U.S. Air Force graphic)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AFNS) -- The Air Force Installation Contracting Center-Europe, or AFICC/KU, supporting U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa, recently created the iHub web site to encourage collaboration and increase shared knowledge between AFICC/KU, USAFE-AFAFRICA contracting squadrons and other mission-focused business leaders to spark innovations.

Change agents can use the website as a filter for information to streamline processes or solve issues within squadrons or even across the theater.

“KU iHub was developed as an avenue for USAFE-AFAFRICA MFBLs to share their innovations and ideas with higher headquarters, and work with other contracting professions on the staff to see if that idea can be repeated, scaled and utilized by other change agents at locations across USAFE-AFAFRICA and beyond,” said Erik Symanski, AFICC/KU contracting deputy director. “In short, it helps turn the innovations and ideas into proven solutions and processes that help reduce the acquisition timeline and enhance contract management across the enterprise.”

Through iHub, users can submit and collaborate their innovation ideas with action officers, view the status and stages of submitted innovations, and have access to the necessary documentation or process on all innovations that have met all criteria for implementation anywhere in the command.

“The goal of KU iHub is to provide the USAFE-AFAFRICA CONS proven solutions to award contracts faster and smarter while enhancing contract management,” said Ms. Danielle Diaz, AFICC/KU procurement analyst, strategic sourcing office. “KU iHub is a place where the CONS can submit their innovative ideas and is designed to be a one-stop-shop of actual contract approaches that have been proven to be repeatable, scalable, and understandable to all the USAFE-AFAFRICA CONS.”

By creating a collaborative environment and encouraging shared knowledge, iHub has the potential to accelerate mission-focused innovations to Airmen across operating locations and empower contracting officers to create change without having to reinvent solutions.

“Currently, the website is geared toward the USAFE-AFAFRICA (contracting squadron) and as the process gains momentum we will advertise the site to the broader USAFE-AFAFRICA community,” Symanski said. “We hope that the site becomes a place where our internal customers, mission partners and other teammates can see what kind of innovations their contracting counterparts are working on. We also hope it will empower customers and mission partners to discuss how to use proven solutions on their next acquisition or other ideas for innovation with their contracting team … driving other potential collaborative websites.”

After years of seeing many innovative ideas that were very specific to a singular issue or situation, Symanski had the idea to create a process that ensured innovative ideas could be shared with a wider audience. To turn this thought into a reality, he put together a team to build iHub, its processes, procedures and the SharePoint site.

“iHub empowers Airmen by working with the innovator, providing them with the necessary tools, experience and expertise to prove the innovation, and then sharing the results within USAFE-AFAFRICA and beyond,” Symanski said. “Air Force contracting and AFICC both have flight plans with lines of efforts or missions areas that iHub connects to or supports.”

Since iHub went live Jan. 20, 15 new initiatives have been submitted with eight already proven to be implementable throughout the command.

“KU iHub initiatives include the ‘Highest Rated Technical Offer’ award selection approach, allowing mission partners to capture the importance of experience-related technical requirements, thereby reducing the overall acquisition timeline up to 50%,” said Heidi Hoehn, AFICC/KU chief of policy, program and systems. “Another initiative involves codifying the process (that) allows CONS to accept PRs in the local currency, euros, instead of dollars. This new process is saving CONS and financial managers up to three days in the acquisition cycle resulting in future improved obligation rates.”

USAFE-AFAFRICA contracting squadrons aim to improve their capabilities through innovation and change to foster a technological environment committed to accelerating change.