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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.