Federal CIO continues push for standards to enable interoperability

Efforts by NIEM could be a model for creating standards

Creating more interoperable systems across federal, state and local governments greatly depends on establishing standards and building information technology systems that adhere to those standards, Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra said today.

Steps taken by the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) organization to create standards could be a government-wide model, Kundra said at a NIEM training event in Baltimore.

NIEM is a federal, state, local and tribal interagency program founded in 2005 to create a foundation for information exchange. It was created through a partnership between the Justice and Homeland Security departments, according to the group’s Web site.

The group has been successful in advocating for standards, Kundra said. For example. those departments agreed on some data standards and are requiring state, local and tribal governments use those standards when building projects with federal grant money, he added.

However, federal agencies still have a long way to go in adopting standards, he said.

“Where we really need help is as we move into this new world where we are much more focused on services, and we start thinking about the underlying architecture to provide those services,” Kundra said. “How do we, in this new world, think about data portability? How do we move from one product provider to the next product provider?”

One answer is for agencies to create enterprise architecture that incorporates standards and the next step is to follow that architecture, Kundra said.

“The challenge with architecture, a lot of time, is that it has become so abstract that it turns into an academic exercise,” he said. “Business leaders want to make investments to solve business problems and can’t see the value of architecture. That is the challenge for the architecture community, to figure out how to show and demonstrate enough value as you’re architecting for a central core or central platform.” 

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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