A report on Electronic Government: Challenges to Effective Adoption of the Extensible Markup Language has been prepared by the United States General Accounting Office (GAO). The 73-page document GAO-02-327 is issued as a 'Report to the Chairman, Committee on Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate (submitted to The Honorable Joseph I. Lieberman, Chairman, Committee on Governmental Affairs by David L. McClure, Director, Information Technology Management Issues). The report was written in response to a request which asked GAO to assess (1) the overall development status of XML standards to determine whether they are ready for governmentwide use, and (2) challenges faced by the federal government in optimizing its adoption of XML technology to promote broad information sharing and systems interoperability. A principal finding was that important XML business standards are still being created for identifying potential business partners, exchanging precise transaction protocol information, and executing legally binding transactions. Current challenges and pitfalls threatening interoperability are reported to include: (1) proliferation of redundant data definitions, vocabularies, and structures; (2) the potential for proprietary extensions to XML; (3) inadequate security mechanisms; (4) an inadequate governmentwide XML adoption strategy; (5) incomplete identification of federal agencies' requirements; (6) lack of a central XML registry; (7) immature enterprise architectures for XML implementation. Recommendations include creation of a new government-unique requirements specification, a project plan for transitioning the CIO Council's pilot XML registry effort into an operational governmentwide resource, and policies for effective use of the governmentwide XML registry.
Report Submitted to The Honorable Joseph I. Lieberman, Chairman, Committee on Governmental Affairs, United States Senate. From David L. McClure, Director, Information Technology Management Issues. "Dear Mr. Chairman: This report responds to your request that we review the status of Extensible Markup Language (XML) technology and the challenges the federal government faces in implementing it. XML is a flexible, nonproprietary set of standards designed to facilitate the exchange of information among disparate computer systems, using the Internet's protocols. Specifically, we agreed to assess (1) the overall development status of XML standards to determine whether they are ready for governmentwide use and (2) challenges faced by the federal government in optimizing its adoption of XML technology to promote broad information sharing and systems interoperability. The report recommends that the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) take steps to improve the federal government's planning for adoption of XML..."
From 'Results in Brief': "Many standards-setting organizations in the private sector are creating various XML business standards, and it will be important for the federal government to adopt those that achieve widespread acceptance. However, it is not yet clear which business standards meet this criterion. In addition, key XML vocabularies tailored to address specific industries and business activities are still in development and not yet ready for governmentwide adoption. Given that a complete set of XML-related standards is not yet available, system developers must be wary of several pitfalls associated with implementing XML that could limit its potential to facilitate broad information exchange or adversely affect interoperability, including (1) the risk that redundant data definitions, vocabularies, and structures will proliferate, (2) the potential for proprietary extensions to be built that would defeat XML's goal of broad interoperability, and (3) the need to maintain adequate security. In addition to these pitfalls, which all systems developers must address, the federal government faces additional challenges as it attempts to gain the most from XML's potential. Specifically: (1) No explicit governmentwide strategy for XML adoption has been defined to guide agency implementation efforts and ensure that agency enterprise architectures address incorporation of XML; (2) The needs of federal agencies have not been uniformly identified and consolidated so that they can be represented effectively before key standards-setting bodies...; (3) The government has not yet established a registry of government-unique XML data structures (such as data element tags and associated data definitions) that system developers can consult when building or modifying XML-based systems...; (4) Much also needs to be done to ensure that agencies address XML implementation through enterprise architectures so that they can maximize XML's benefits and forestall costly future reworking of their systems..."
From 'Recommendations for Executive Action': "Given the statutory responsibility of OMB to develop and oversee governmentwide policies and guidelines for agency IT management, we recommend that the director of OMB, working in concert with the federal CIO Council and NIST, develop a strategy for governmentwide adoption of XML to guide agency implementation efforts and ensure that the technology is addressed in agency enterprise architectures. This strategy should, at a minimum, address how the federal government will address the following tasks: (1) Developing a process with defined roles, responsibilities, and accountability for identifying and coordinating government-unique requirements and presenting consolidated, focused input to private sector standards-setting bodies during the development of XML standards... (2) Developing a project plan for transitioning the CIO Council's pilot XML registry effort into an operational governmentwide resource... (3) Setting policies and guidelines for managing and participating in the governmentwide XML registry, once it is operational, to ensure its effectiveness in promoting data sharing capabilities among federal agencies..."
- Electronic Government: Challenges to Effective Adoption of the Extensible Markup Language. By United States General Accounting Office (GAO). Report to the Chairman, Committee on Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate. Document reference: GAO-02-327. April 2002. 73 pages. [cache; alt URL]
- United States General Accounting Office (GAO)
- XML.gov website
- "US Federal CIO Council XML Working Group" - Main reference page.
- See also from April 08, 2002: "[HR-XML Response to 'Challenges to Effective Adoption of the Extensible Markup Language'.]" By Chuck Allen (Director, HR-XML Consortium, Inc.). Chuck Allen reports on some errors in the GAO report considered to be "damaging to the interests of HR-XML and to U.S. government interests."