CIO Council to rethink commercial standards

The CIO Council is creating a working group to look at how the government can make better use of the technical standards created by private industry, according to a member of the council.

The new working group will not be involved in mandating any standards but will look at what standards are available in the commercial sector that also can meet the needs of agencies, said Lee Holcomb, NASA chief information officer and a member of the CIO Council's interoperability committee, which is setting up the group.

The advantage of a widely adopted standard is that it will be around for a long time, and the responsibility for maintaining it falls on many groups, Holcomb said at the FOSE computer trade show and exhibition today in Washington, D.C.

NASA has first-hand experience with proprietary standards, he said. The agency uses several high-level software languages in its programs that are not used by anyone else, such as the Kennedy Space Center's Launch Control System, Holcomb said. "It doesn't make sense for the government to own its own language," he said. NASA is planning on replacing the proprietary language in the Launch Control System with the commercially available C++ language.

The working group, which will be led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, should be up and running in a few months, according to Holcomb.

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