Agencies close in on metadata benefits

Although some government organizations shy away from metadata projects to avoid costs and cultural upheaval, a few are forging ahead with major initiatives, including the Bureau of Land Management and the Census Bureau.

BLM, part of the Interior Department, is building a centralized metadata repository as part of its broader data management program. The repository will provide "a really good picture of the state of our data," said Melanie Rhinehart, data manager in the Systems Coordination Office at BLM. The metadata project got going about two years ago when the organization acquired and deployed Computer Associates International Inc.'s Advantage metadata repository product.

The repository has improved the overall operating efficiency of BLM's disparate data systems. Aside from gaining standard data elements that can be shared and reused throughout the organization — "a one-stop shopping area for metadata for all of our national applications" — the project has given the bureau's enterprise architecture project a boost, Rhinehart said.

In all, 40 applications have been loaded. "There are a couple more we are working on," she said. The software and consultation cost $430,000.

Census officials, with the help of consultants from Oracle Corp., have been toiling for more than six years to design a corporate metadata repository to help them manage a broad collection of numeric and survey information. The repository includes not just survey responses, but also the data that goes into the process of designing questionnaires.

Still a work in progress, the metadata repository is "a bunch of

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