Wi-Fi on ships, the end of GMT and a PFA overhaul of PFA all have one thing in common: They started as came from sailor ideas.

All three went from suggestion a dream to reality because of with the Reducing Administrative Distractions campaign, launched in 2013. And this year the program is getting a face lift.

It's been restyled as "New Issues 2015," nestled with the Navy Secretary Ray Mabus' larger Task Force Innovation initiative, dubbed The Hatch, a crowd-sourcing site for your sailor ideas launched in May.

Good Deckplate sailor ideas can become reality, and there are prizes on the table for the best ones.

It will build on the success of the first two rounds of RAD, the new program's director told Navy Times in a June 4 phone interview.

"We're trying to change the culture for innovation, so that we empower all our people to bring ideas for better processes, for improving policy, for improving technology, so they can concentrate on warfighting first," said Rear Adm. Linda Wackerman.

The reserve deputy director of assessments for the office of the chief of naval operations, Wackerman came on board late last year and took over the revamped campaign.

The first round, back in 2013, attracted 8,000 sailors and civiliansusers to the site and received some 1,400 suggestions, which were boiled down into the changes sailors can see today.

"What happened was, we binned those ideas," Wackerman said. "A lot of them were similar, or the same, and were able to be put into certain categories."

Once they were narrowed down to around 50 ideas, she added, five or 10 were moved forward.

Real change

General military training was one of those categories. Last year the Navy reduced the number of online courses sailors must take, and this year, Mabus announced the end of online GMT beginning June 1.

"It's just been an evolution," Wackerman said.

The process goes like this: Sailors sign up for the site and submit their ideas, and moderators screen them before farming them out to subject matter experts to tackle.

That's what happened with the PFA study that led, eventually, to sweeping changes proposed by the Office of the Chief of Naval Personnel and announced by Mabus in May.

A medical corps officer at the Naval Postgraduate School led the study, Wackerman said, to explore how the Navy could use the PFA to create a culture of fitness, rather than a "twice-a-year crucible," which is how Mabus described it recently.

Getting Wi-Fi on ships was another popular suggestion. RAD coupled that with improving mobility for t sailors doing maintenance.

"We were able to get a lot of the maintenance pubs on the computer instead of hard copy," Wackerman said.

Last year, the destroyer Laboon randid a pilot program with 20 tablets and 10 Wi-Fi ports while pierside. Wackerman said the plan is to do another trial within the next year. The next-generation computer system afloat, known by the acronym CANES, also features Wi-Fi hotspots aboard ship.

Those three programs came out of 80 originally sent in a mass email to flag officers in late 2013, after the first round of RAD.

One still in development is a Sailor Wiki, an online portal with tips and best practices that can be accessed anywhere. More Wi-Fi on ships will help move that process along.

Getting involved

The results of the RAD campaign will sound familiar to any sailor, because they're the same issues griped about at work and online forums, or brought up in all-hands calls.

Wackerman encouraged sailors to be proactive about their ideas instead by using the RAD site.

"We don't want sailors always complaining. We've got to make this right," she said. "We want this to be a world class organization, right?"

And there are opportunities for rewards.

There had been a plan, back in 2013, to pay sailors with the best for the ideas — , but the budget got in the way. three $1,000 prizes, seven $500 prizes and 5 CNO coins. But budget constraints got in the way. Unfortunately, Navy spokeswoman Lt. j.g. Katherine Dransfield confirmed, sequestration hit and the cash prizes were canceled.

Now, within the Navy Department's innovation site, The Hatch, there is another campaign going on to determine how sailors should be rewarded for their ideas.

Sailors can sign in, submit ideas to reduce administrative distractions and suggestions for how they'd like to be rewarded, all in one shot.

"How do we reward and incentivize folks to innovate?" Wackerman said.

To contribute your ideas, visit https://doninnovation.ideascale.com.

Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members. Follow on Twitter @Meghann_MT

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