GPO considers CIO Council request to create XML template

The Government Printing Office is mulling a request from the CIO Council to develop a standard Extensible Markup Language vocabulary that all agencies can use to disseminate information online.

Mike Wash, GPO’s chief technology officer, said that if his agency participates in the project, it will likely start small and develop an XML template all agencies can use when developing their strategic plans.

A standard XML vocabulary could aid search engines by applying tags to applications, allowing users to get to this information much more quickly. One tag might identify the title of the document, another the author, and so on.

GPO would be “developing a common XML vocabulary across the government for having agencies’ strategic plans in a consistent form,” Wash said.

Eventually, the project could be expanded and apply to all documents produced by federal agencies, Wash said.

This is particularly intriguing for GPO, Wash said, because of its Future Digital Content Information System, a massive content management and data storage modernization project that would, by July 2007, digitize, manage and store online all federal documents dating back to the birth of the country.

“We are working on ways to help standardize information flow in government,” Wash said. “One way to do that is to have a common vocabulary for XML data.”

GPO hopes to issue a solicitation this month for a vendor to do the heavy lifting on the FDSys, with an award being granted in February. The winning vendor will be responsible for integrating the various features of the system and making it operational in July 2007.

This project “is particularly aligned with the types of things we want to do,” Wash said.

But the work surrounding FDSys may leave GPO stretched too thin to tackle the XML project as well, Wash said.

“We’re still considering” the CIO Council’s request, he said. “It’s not a question of whether it’s the right thing to do, but it’s a matter of whether we can do a good job with it because of everything else we’re doing.”

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