A matter of standards

The standards-making process is one arena in which the federal sector's role has changed during the past two decades.

The Government Open Systems Interconnection Protocol (GOSIP) is a prime example from the government's standard-setting days. GOSIP was created by an interagency group and launched in 1986. It dueled for a time with TCP/IP, which had been deemed an interim standard. But as the Internet exploded beyond its government origins, TCP/IP, and not the government-backed GOSIP, became the key underpinning.

The GOSIP story illustrates an overall shift in which the commercial market became more influential in establishing standards.

"Back in those early days, government was one of the main drivers of automation and had a big say in things," said Howard Ady III, who worked to get industry and government to discuss standards through the Federation of Government Information Processing Councils. Over the years, the commercial marketplace began to have the greater influence "in terms of driving toward standards," he said.

That was the case with local-area network standards. When organizations first started deploying PC networks, they faced a jumble of proprietary offerings. Agencies "very quickly could build a tower of Babel," Ady said. Eventually, Novell Inc. emerged from the pack as the first de facto standard.

That shakeout process repeated for other facets of technology. "We're dealing with ones and twos instead of dozens of alternatives," said Ady, now an executive at BearingPoint Inc. The interoperability goal he and other government executives sought had been reached.

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group