The National Diagnostic Working Group (NDWG) has led the effort to fully exploit the major inertial confinement fusion/high-energy density facilities in the US with the best available diagnostics. These diagnostics provide key data used to falsify early theories for ignition and suggest new theories, recently leading to an experiment that exceeds the Lawson condition required for ignition. The factors contributing to the success of the NDWG, collaboration and scope evolution, and the methods of accomplishment of the NDWG are discussed in this Review. Examples of collaborations in neutron and gamma spectroscopy, x-ray and neutron imaging, x-ray spectroscopy, and deep-ultraviolet Thomson scattering are given. An abbreviated history of the multi-decade collaborations and the present semiformal management framework is given together with the latest National Diagnostic Plan.

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