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It is difficult for individual industries or government agencies to address this need. We should instead have a means to assemble the appropriate representatives and do the job for all. This is not to say that individual elements should not be addressed by the most appropriate organizations. But the description of the environment, the generation of an overall work plan to achieve and sustain it, and the monitoring of its implementation and enhancement should be done by an entity that is representative of all the players.

Two ways come to mind to accomplish this. One is to convene an ad hoc team, and the other is to use an existing organization of a multiplayer nature. In either case, a description of the environment and a work plan should be generated quickly. The work plan should be of sufficient detail to allow selection of the best means to achieve each major deliverable.

An existing organization that would be a viable candidate is the CALS Industry Steering Group (ISG). It is chaired by USAF LtGen (retired) Jim Abrahamson and has members from many industries as well as close liaison with government agencies. It has recently restructured to emphasize the requirements of both the commercial sector and the government, and seeks to enable the reengineering of business processes through the effective and efficient sharing and exchange of data electronically. It has begun to negotiate agreements with organizations having similar interests to support a focus on common problems and to avoid redundant and perhaps competing uses of resources.

One advantage an existing organization has is that it would be positioned by its charter and interests to act in a coordinating, monitoring, and steering role, as well as offering a mechanism for actually executing parts of the plan. It could collect common requirements and issues and act as an ''honest broker" in facilitating common solutions. It could also coordinate production validation of solutions through pilots in its member organizations, as well as support prototyping of new technologies. It is user driven, which is essential if the new environment so facilitated is to be practical and responsive.

If an organization such as the CALS ISG were chosen as a prime mechanism, it would be important that full-time staff be provided to complement the mostly volunteer resources that currently support its efforts. There is no substitute for the enthusiasm and ability of the dedicated and talented volunteer, but the realities of the business world necessarily limit the time and energy these individuals can provide.

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