State-of-the-art Decision Support Center gives way to open discussion, anonymous collaboration Published Feb. 23, 2007 By Lisa Mathews WR-ALC/XPT Robins Air Force Base, Ga., -- Have you ever needed a forum in which all opinions could be expressed without any attribution? Are there times you wish you could freely state your concerns without fear of retribution? If so, you might want to check out the Decision Support Center. Located in Bldg. 255, the DSC is a state-of-the-art facility designed and developed by personnel within the Plans and Programs Directorate Acquisition Center of Excellence. The center is a conference room with 30 modular workstations that can be configured to meet any group's facilitation needs. The center uses GroupSystems, software designed specifically for collaborative decision making. The software allows participants to type in their opinions, concerns or issues on the keyboard. When they hit the enter key, their input is shown on the screen at the front of the room with no attribution and no way to track who entered which comment. The program can also sort and categorize inputs by a variety of means which can be tailored to a group's particular needs. "The collaborative environment fostered by the DSC stimulates open discussion in a virtual non-attribution forum since participant issues and concerns are entered anonymously," said Mark Leslein, the ACE contact for DSC information and reservations. "The DSC levels the playing field by treating everybody's inputs as equal. Whether you are a large business or a small business, a ranking officer or an airman, a user or a provider, everyone has the opportunity to be heard." The DSC supports risk assessments, brainstorming sessions and real-time group document reviews. Acquisition teams also use the DSC to support Industry Days, where representatives from industry meet government representatives to discuss upcoming acquisition issues. "The environment reduces the impact of dominant players to steer a particular acquisition decision down a certain path since all participants have equal opportunities to express their issues in the virtual environment," Mr. Leslein said. Mr. Leslein said the DSC tools have amazed customers in supporting their critical acquisition events and the results have always exceeded their expectations. "The time saved by the automatic report-generation tools eliminates a lot of administrative burdens on the program office in developing and distribution of the session results to the event participants. Next-day data deliveries to the customers are the norm," he added. The monitors in the room do not allow e-mail checks. They are not connected to the main server systems for the base. One computer in the center can be connected to the Internet if a group needs to have Internet connection for data gathering in a more global environment. Groups wishing to use the DSC for an event should contact Mr. Leslein at least one week in advance. "While the tools can be tailored to on-the-spot sessions, the degree of success of a function is how well the meeting is planned and executed against expectations," he said. "The most successful sessions are a result of pre-planning what the group wishes to achieve from the GS tools available." What to know For more information or to schedule an event, contact Mr. Leslein at 926-0281 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.