The U.S. Government is very leery of technology “fads” and that is why it often has a love/hate relationship with XML. You must remember that at any time, 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 2-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!
So, in this blog, I hope to engage with you in many discussions about how the government is using XML technology, how they should use XML technology and everything in between!
So, bring me your Government XML stories and I will bring you mine … today, 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). Here is the website for you to learn about and experiment with this XML data model. 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. Remember, the roar of legacy systems has a long tail …
Until next time, see you in the XML trenches… :)