NOTE: This site provides archival information for the IFTDSS project from 2007-2013.
For current information on the status and availability of IFTDSS, please refer to the
IFTDSS October 2015 Information Bulletin.

AFE 2015 San Antonio IFTDSS Workshop Tutorials

Phase V: Evaluating the IFTDSS project and software implementation (November 2012 – September 2013)

On April 23, 2012 an interagency group of individuals organized by Jim Douglas, representing the DOI agencies, and John Phipps, representing the USDA Forest Service, met in Boise, ID to review the status and future plans for the Interagency Fuels Treatment Decision Support System (IFTDSS). It was decided that IFTDSS V 2.0 needs to be completed and further development work funded by the JFSP should stop. An independent evaluation of IFTDSS should be performed. The IFTDSS service integration framework should proceed through the newly created software acceptance process of the interagency Wildland Fire Information and Technology (WFI&T) program.

The IFTDSS version 2.0 service integration framework web-application was completed in October 2012 and can be accessed by anyone at This internet link brings users to the IFTDSS home page. From the home page, users can (1) sign in if they already have an account (2) request an account for a new user (3) view an introductory video of how to use IFTDSS and (4) view the detailed online help for IFTDSS. On the home page, viewers will also find a succinct explanation of what IFTDSS is and information on the latest functional capabilities. For the time being, no further IFTDSS development work will be funded by JFSP. A project ending final report was written and contains a detailed description of IFTDSS V 2.0 (Haste et al., 2012 [pdf]).

Also in 2012, the JFSP engaged the Software Engineering Institute (SEI), a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) operated by Carnegie Mellon University to perform an independent evaluation of how well the IFTDSS service integration framework succeeded in addressing the "software chaos" problem. After an extensive evaluation, the SEI concluded that IFTDSS (1) significantly improves the quality and efficiency of the fuels treatment planning process for the majority of user needs; (2) provides a concrete demonstration of one way to implement the four key WFI&T solution concepts above; (3) enables standardized, risk-based fuels management planning for a large part of the fuels specialist community; and (4) is near-ready for operational use. The evaluation concluded that if fielded as part of a comprehensive governance strategy, IFTDSS can be a major step in bringing order to the “software chaos” problem (Bennett et al., 2013 [pdf]).

An interagency analysis and review of the current state of information technology investments, governance, and capabilities in the wildland fire programs of the four Interior fire bureaus and the USDA Forest Service was conducted in order to provide a sound information base for designing a plan to implement the broad strategic recommendations of the NWCG NWFEA Modernization Blueprint (Douglas and Phipps, July 15, 2011 [pdf]). This review provided another independent confirmation that the “software chaos” problem identified earlier by the JFSP existed and that it was indeed a serious and growing concern to senior leaders of the Forest Service and the DOI. The interagency action plan entitled "Wildland Fire Information and Technology: strategy, governance, and investments" appeared a year later (Douglas and Phipps, March 23, 2012 [pdf]). The recommended solution strategy of the WFI&T strategy closely mirrors the solution strategy of the IFTDSS project: web-based SOA approach as the enabling software technology; computer platform independence; available to users regardless of location or agency; integrated data environment; software modules linked in a framework as services; sharing of work between users; mission requirements drive the application; services organized to reduce workflow complexity to users; and research and innovation focused on enhancing business mission accomplishment.

The intent of these actions was to have a comprehensive assessment of the effectiveness of IFTDSS V 2.0 and the implications of deployment for operational use by June 30, 2013 so that an informed decision can be made by the WFI&T interagency leadership board regarding operations and maintenance and future improvements of IFTDSS. Should the WFI&T interagency leadership board decide to operationalize IFTDSS, JFSP will assist in every way possible, including funding research to address specific science needs to support continued improvements to the science underlying the software.

A final report was written to complete the public documentation of the JFSP funded Software Tools and Systems study and the IFTDSS software (Rauscher et al., 2013 [pdf]). The objectives of this final report are to (1) describe the existing "software chaos" problem in the business mission of wildland fire and fuels management in the land management federal agencies of the United States; (2) describe the design of the solution the Joint Fire Science Software Tools and Systems study produced to ameliorate the "software chaos" problem; (3) present the IFTDSS service integration framework software architecture and functionality; and (4) discuss the results of an independent evaluation of the IFTDSS software in addressing the "software chaos" problem.