CIO Council committee, GPO discuss XML template

Officials from the CIO Council have held preliminary discussions with the Government Printing Office about developing a standard Extensible Markup Language vocabulary that all agencies could use to disseminate information online.

But top CIO Council officials stressed that the idea is in its embryonic stage and that the council has made no decisions on whether it would move any further.

“CIO Council representatives on that committee did indeed have a conversation with GPO,” said Dan Matthews, Transportation Department CIO and vice chairman of the CIO Council.

The CIO Council’s Architecture and Infrastructure Committee casually contacted GPO in October about establishing a standardized XML template agencies could use when developing and posting their strategic plans online, said Mike Wash, GPO’s chief technology officer.

Wash said his agency has not decided whether it will participate, but said he found the project intriguing.

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

GPO has an interest in the project, 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.”

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

“It’s not a question of whether it’s the right thing to do,” he said, “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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