Agencies may tap DOD for simulation skills

Officials from federal agencies facing similar modeling and simulation needs are discussing ways to share information and reduce costs, and their efforts might result in a governmentwide architecture for simulation systems.

At the least, the informal meetings should result in reduced duplication of effort, according to Army Col. W. Forrest Crain, director of the Defense Modeling and Simulation Office (DMSO). But they also could lead to agencies adopting the Pentagon's High Level Architecture (HLA), which is being fielded to ensure that all military simulation systems are interoperable and can share data.

He also recommends establishing a multiagency council to formalize the collaboration process.

Making HLA an architecture that crosses agencies would save the other departments time and money because many now lack an agencywide architecture and the Pentagon has already funded HLA research and development.

Officials from DMSO met with representatives from nearly a dozen other agencies in April — including NASA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Commerce and Energy departments — and are expected to meet with more in June, Crain said.

Crain got the idea for the meetings during a trip to the Army's Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala., in February, when he also visited simulation facilities at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. He found that NASA pays for programs similar to DOD's and realized other agencies might be doing the same.

"We did identify several areas whereby we have mutual interests but separate efforts with separate funding," Crain said of the April meeting. "Then we identified the right points of contact within the various organizations to get those folks working together where we have redundancies and overlap."

He said the benefits of collaboration enjoyed by the military services could be expanded to other agencies. "Clearly, at the intergovernmental agency level, the opportunities are probably infinite."

If HLA was adopted throughout government, agencies could connect their systems with the Pentagon's for joint modeling and training. Leaders at the Pentagon and FEMA are interested in topography and weather modeling and could benefit by sharing capabilities.

A common architecture might become increasingly vital as the Pentagon develops a new concept for coordinating a governmentwide warfighting effort.

MORE INFO

High Level Architecture timeline

September 1996: Approved by the undersecretary of Defense for acquisition

and technology as the standard technical architecture for all Defense simulation

systems.

September 2000: Approved as an open standard through the Institute of

Electrical and Electronic Engineers.

September 2000: Defense Department Executive Counsel for Modeling and

Simulation signed a memorandum of agreement adopting HLA as the standard

architecture.

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