IdeaFactory is a Web-based tool that empowers all Transportation Security Administration employees to:
- submit ideas,
- provide comments on how to improve new concepts, and
- rate ideas that should be recommended for implementation
It uses social media concepts to harness the “wisdom of the crowds” and expand upon the traditional suggestion box.
This information is then elevated to program managers and Senior Leaders to provide them with not only an opportunity to implement ideas that will positively impact TSA’s mission, but gives them an unfiltered glimpse into the needs and opinions of 60,000+ TSA employees.
While implementation of ideas is the ultimate goal of the IdeaFactory, when an idea cannot be implemented, program managers and senior leaders are required to explain why, creating a two-way dialogue between idea creators and implementers, and increasing good-faith between a predominantly field-based workforce and headquarters.
IdeaFactory’s integration into TSA’s culture and business processes continues to evolve even after its launch in 2007 and is just one part of TSA’s overall communications and transparency strategy, while also addressing innovation as one of TSA’s core values.
Providing the workforce with involvement in operational decision making has changed the way TSA does business. The program was launched in April 2007 to address three key needs at TSA:
- How TSA could engage employees and ensure that every member of its large workforce at more than 450 airports and other locations could communicate with headquarters;
- How TSA could collect constant, fresh input and perspectives on improvements to keep the agency flexible and effectively mitigate security threats; and
- How TSA could disseminate information about new and existing programs, initiatives, and policies to front-line employees and provide a forum for communication between employees.
In 2009, IdeaFactory was recognized by the White House as a best practice in Open Government, and TSA IdeaFactory is one of the founding members of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s Ideation Community of Practice, which is a cross-government group that meets monthly to share best practices and benchmarking for public and private ideation programs. In 2010, IdeaFactory developed a Memorandum of Agreement that allowed TSA to share the IdeaFactory code and program manager training with other agencies.
Information about TSA’s IdeaFactory can also be found on the TSA.gov website, located here: http://www.tsa.gov/research/idea_factory/index.shtm.