Intelligence leads the way

Taxonomy software vendors say that the intelligence and defense communities are the main government users of their products, though the companies generally are reluctant to name names.

Those communities' acceptance of the software may be partly due to the fact that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency funds development of many of the technologies, but it is more likely driven by agency needs.

"We have way too much information and are currently operating in a wartime operational tempo," said one Defense Department official. "Analysts must be able to rapidly locate critical pieces of information that can affect battlefield operations."

To support innovation in the market, In-Q-Tel, the CIA's venture capital firm, is working with taxonomy specialists Stratify Inc. and Mohomine Inc., according to Greg Pepus, visionary solutions architect at In-Q-Tel.

Beyond the military and intelligence communities, taxonomy software is used in other areas of government. "People are just starting to learn" about these tools, Pepus said.

For example, the State Department is launching a pilot project using technology from Autonomy Corp. to provide taxonomy for a knowledge management, collaboration and basic desktop services project covering U.S. organizations overseas, said Bruce Froehlich, partner in Accenture's Government Group, the lead contractor on the project.

Also, the Institute for Intergovernmental Research (IIR), an organization funded by the Justice Department, is using Autonomy's technology for the Global Justice Information Network initiative, a project to build an information infrastructure to increase data sharing among law enforcement agencies.

The system is being used by 25 people but should eventually reach thousands of users, said Clay Jester, director of information for IIR.

When it comes to medium and small agencies, "you've got to have a very strong business case," said Mike Burk, chief knowledge officer of the Federal Highway Administration.

FHWA is using a homemade solution to support 15 portals that it has built to address issues such as the National Environmental Policy Act.

"We are not using automated technology that analyzes or indexes the information," Burk said. Instead, the department is relying on experts in different communities of practice to contribute, categorize and maintain information on the sites.

"The intent is to get the concepts and practices in place in the organization," he said.

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