FDIC simplifies publishing with XML

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has made XML the centerpiece of a Web publishing project planned for next year.

The FDIC's Division of Insurance publishes the Regional Outlook quarterly, both in print and on the Web, for eight geographic regions. The regions are "headquartered" in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Memphis, New York and San Francisco. The publication describes the economic conditions in those regions for use by the FDIC's economic-examination workforce.

"We're going to use XML to publish the Regional Outlook to help separate the content from the format," said Mark Brenneman, assistant director of the business applications branch in the FDIC's division of information resources management. "XML will help push it to the Web and streamline the dissemination process."

The FDIC currently publishes the same information on paper and on the Web. The agency will use XML to develop the content and then publish it as a Web page or a printed page without having separate publication-formatting cycles, which have a lot of overlap and require manual intervention, Brenneman said.

The publication project should be complete by the third or fourth quarter of 2001, "but we're not going to rush it," he said. "We want to do it right and thoroughly test it."

Despite the near-term benefits that XML offers for Web publishing, Brenneman said the technology's real potential at the FDIC is in data/information exchange on an interagency basis. The FDIC is in constant communication with the government's other regulatory agencies, including the Federal Reserve Board and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and is in discussions with them about using XML as the standard format for exchanging data.

Along those lines, the FDIC routinely exchanges data with private-sector companies, especially in the banking industry, and views XML as one way to edit, aggregate and publish that information back to industry, academia and the public at large in a timely fashion, Brenneman said. Establishing an XML-based industry standard for the software developers and banking industry is a key factor in making this work.

And although XML has great potential, it is just one piece of the puzzle in the FDIC's effort to use technology to improve services. "We're doing all of these things anyway to improve and streamline our efforts," Brenneman said. "XML is not a make-or-break technology.... We take a process we're already doing and use XML to improve it, and maybe facilitate other things down the line — like more frequent data exchanges and different cuts of information."

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