As part of its efforts to nurture new ideas originating from employees, the Navy plans to dole out new "Innovation Awards" next year.
The awards -- recognizing creativity in areas such as data analytics, robotics and 3-D printing -- are intended to “ensure every sailor, Marine and civilian understand that we value their innovative ideas and encourage them to contribute" to the Navy's mission, according to a mid-July Navy memo.
The Navy is accepting nominations for the 2015 SECNAV awards until Oct. 31, 2015, and winners are slated to be announced in January 2016, according to the Navy.
Awards could be given for technology advances in topics including, among many others:
- Robotics and autonomous systems
- Data analytics technology, especially those that "improve performance, support decision making or provide meaningful insight to existing processes"
- Additive manufacturing, often known as 3-D printing, that helps operational forces save cost, expand fleet capabilities, and lead to new war-fighter technology
In addition to scientific and technological ideas, the SECNAV awards include recognition for Navy employees who create an environment that "fosters innovation." Another category recognizes individuals who have inspired others to think creatively.
The SECNAV awards, announced earlier this week, are the second recent effort dedicated to nurturing creativity and new ideas at the Navy. In January 2015, the Navy established Task Force Innovation, a group of special advisers, whose mission was to promote innovation, largely through incentives programs rewarding outside-the-box thinking.
"This isn't about creating an innovative workforce," Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said in a press release announcing the creation of the task force. "This is about harnessing the creative energy which our sailors, Marines and civilians already have."
The Navy is still hammering out specifics on an online platform through which employees can submit new ideas, Robert Kozloski, a deputy undersecretary for the Navy, told Nextgov in an interview.
Within the next year, Kozloski estimates, the Navy could have a new system that allows employees to track their ideas through the submission process, and on which judges can flag interesting ideas for later.
The Navy currently uses a Web platform called Ideascale -- also used by the White House and other federal agencies -- to collect public ideas and input on existing ideas, about how to improve operations at the Navy. In May, the Navy launched "The Hatch," a virtual collaboration site for sailors, Marines and Navy civilians.
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