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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

XML and Government Schizophrenia

The U.S. Government is very leery of technology fads and that is why
it often has a love/hate relationship with XML. For every technology
that exists, the government has a huge legacy investment. So, while the
corporate world may turn on a dime and quickly adopt the latest and
greatest thing -- the government must contend with huge legacy issues,
a two-year (minimum) budget planning cycle, and a horde of technologists
actively engaged and personally invested in that legacy technology that
you want to throw away! [...] Let me briefly discuss a program that I
initiated when working for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) started as a joint-venture
between DHS and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to harmonize and speed
up the process of information sharing between the federal government
and state and local governments -- actually State, Local and Tribal
governments. The basic idea is that it combines a registry of standard
data objects (modeled via XML Schema), a process for quickly producing
an exchange message, a governance process for the model, and robust tool
support. The model leveraged and extended an existing model called the
Global Justice XML Data Model (GJXDM). It is widely used by law
enforcement at all levels of government and now is also being widely
used at DHS. It has multiple success stories behind it including the
Amber Alert and the national sex offender registry. I highly encourage
everyone to look at it and help make it better. So, what does this mean
for Government Schizophrenia? For information sharing, XML is a favorite
but is attacked continuously in relation to weak data modeling support,
weak encoding of binary objects, performance issues, and many more...

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