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Around The Fleet

Got a RAD Idea?

Navy Encourages Sailors to Become Part of the Solution

With tight budgets and even tighter timelines for what can seem like endless administrative requirements, the Navy launched a website in July that allowed Sailors and Navy civilians to share ideas for cutting down on the tasking and processes that have kept the fleet from putting war fighting first.

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The Reducing Administrative Distractions (RAD) initiative, implemented by Chief of Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert, is currently in its second phase, and is making some real headway in doing exactly what its title suggests, said Rear Adm. Herm Shelanski, director, Assessment Division, OPNAV N81, and RAD team leader.

"People are coming up with some really good ideas, really good solutions to some of these problems," said Shelanski. " We're in a very tight budget situation, but there are a lot of things we can do that are very simple; we just need to take the time to update some of the processes that we have had."

With more than 1,200 ideas submitted at this time, there is no shortage of innovative suggestions. However, Shelanski and his team are focusing first on ideas that were voted to the top by website visitors. The top five ideas selected relate to force protection, general military training, maintenance improvements, Common Access Cards and NavyWiki. During the final phase of the program, and after further research, the ideas will be pushed back to commands who own those programs to implement the changes.

Sailors who have submitted ideas to the website (NavyRad.Ideascale.com) and whose ideas were not selected for implementation this cycle should not get discouraged, said Shelanski.

"We recognize [users] contributions and thank them profusely for participating, and we're going to get to their idea and at least evaluate it - maybe not in this cycle, but in the phases to come."

Until the next cycle begins, those whose ideas weren't selected or those who feel they may have missed their chance to suggest a change, can up or down vote the selected ideas and offer ways to improve them further.

One Sailor who has done just that is Machinery Repairman 3rd Class Eliana Zamora, a North Carolina Navy reservist, who said implementing the suggested ideas would allow her to spend more of her drill time improving her skill set and less on paperwork.

"The suggestions were awesome," said Zamora. "As a reservist, a lot of my weekend drill time is spent on doing paperwork and meeting qualifications. Anything that can streamline and simplify that for me would be great. Plus, the speed with which these phases seem to be happening means that Sailors won't feel pushed to the side or ignored when they suggest something ... you get instant feedback from other users and know within a few weeks if the Navy has chosen to further that idea. In my opinion, we should have had a database like this a long time ago."

The speed Zamora refers to was one of the reasons the RAD team chose to use a civilian crowd-sourcing website instead of a military one.

"We wanted to get to the point quickly and get to the solutions even quicker," said Shelanski. "Crowd-sourcing is a type of social media that allows interaction between those who write in, like a Facebook page, and for analysis purposes, this allows us to easily see where the focus is. We tried to get this put on a typical [Navy] website and found it would take a year and a lot of money to do this. So we went with a [non-military] website. It was very simple, it was very inexpensive and we could get it set up within two weeks."

Users can sign up and log in to the website with a validated Department of Defense email and can opt to receive weekly email updates on submitted ideas and what the Navy is doing to implement them.

"We recognize what the problems are and we are working to solve them," said Shelanski. I can't guarantee that we'll solve all 1,200, but our goal is to start, get an innovative process together and help solve these problems. We're working toward making this a better and more efficient Navy."