Notes from the April 24, 2001, conference on Congressional Organizations' Applications of XML

The Legislative Branch is engaged in a number of XML initiatives and the discussion was very informative.  The URL for the conference Web site is <http://www.citizencontact.com/legalxml/conferenceletter.htm>

From the perspective of the CIO Council's XML Working Group, the primary outcome was a commitment on my part, per their request, to seek an appropriate forum for a followup meeting with the Executive Branch.  I've already discussed it briefly with Robert Greeves of DOJ but may need higher-level support to attract the attention of the appropriate folks -- particularly to get someone to agree to take the lead in setting it up.

I understand that more comprehensive notes will be made available on the LegalXML site.  <http://www.legalxml.org/>  In the meantime, below are my notes on some of the highlights.

Owen Ambur, Co-Chair
XML Working
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A DTD for legislation has already been developed.  Canada has expressed interest in using it and contacts with the States are being pursued as well.

GPO and NARA discussed their activities to render the CFR and FR in XML and NARA's Electronic Records Archive (ERA) project was also discussed.  They are investigating the use of XTM to manage relationships among records for retrieval purposes.  (XTM is one of the agenda topics for the July 18 meeting of the XML WG. <http://xml.gov/agenda/20010718.htm>)

CRS is testing XML query standards.  (The W3C's XQuery WG is scheduled to meet in DC next month.  I'm angling to schedule a presentation on this topic but haven't pinned down a date or presenter(s) yet.  I'm also angling to encourage the FirstGov folks to partner with CRS in exploring the utility of XML query technology.)

LOC and the Law Library are working on the Global Legal Information Network (GLIN).  See  http://memory.loc.gov/law/GLINv1/GLIN.html  & http://lcweb2.loc.gov/glin/glinhome.html
They have a draft DTD, plan to use international open standards, and aim to establish a virtual worldwide law library.  Their initial focus has been international, because Members of Congress often want to know how other nations are handling legal issues.  However, they plan to scale down to State and local jurisdictions as well.

In the Q&A, Steve Jamar noted that he is a consultant to NASA and that lack of georeferencing of laws is a problem.

The House Legislative Counsel's office is concerned about getting bogged down in the markup process, since they often must draft legislation on very short notice.  However, they recognize they must find a way to do it in XML and they are already producing House Resolutions in XML.  Someone noted that it would be awfully nice if bills were in XML so that MCs might actually be able to understand what they contain before voting on them, especially the massive omnibus bills that comprise reams of paper and get dropped on the clerk's desk in the early morning hours of the day of the vote.

Laura Walker announced the formation of an OASIS technical committee to address security issues.  See announcement at http://www.oasis-open.org/news/oasis_news_04_24_01.shtml  She also lauded their partnership with NIST in developing conformance tests so that users can be assured of product compliance with XML standards.

Brian Brenneman said State laws in Michigan are online within two weeks of signature by the Governor.

The talking points I used in my remarks are at http://xml.gov/documents/completed/coax_talking_points.htm  Laura Walker asked what standards we plan to use in an xml.gov registry. <http://xml.gov/registries.htm>  I told her that I was planning to ask her the same thing with respect to the xml.org registry. <http://xml.org/registry/index.shtml>  I mentioned ISO 11179 and noted that we will be relying upon NIST (Barbara Guttman and Lisa Carnahan) to advise us.  I also commented that, since the resources available to any of us will be limited, it would be good if the xml.gov registry could build upon the lessons learned in the xml.org and DISA registries.   (DISA's registry was one of the presentation topics at the XML WG meeting last week. <http://xml.gov/minutes/20010418.htm>)