CIO Council
EIEIT Committee

Business Case for XML Registry/Repository

for Standard and Optional Forms


Objective 2.2:  Establish the use of open, standards-based architectures.

Initiative 3:  Develop an on-line information resource (at xml.gov) defining and documenting an evolving strategy and set of tasks for the effective and well-coordinated usage of eXtensible Markup Language (XML) to support governmental functions.

A. Brief Description of Initiative

Who:  The XML Working Group, supported by the General Services Administration (GSA) and the National Institutes of Technology (NIST).

What:  An ISO/IEC Standard 11179 compliant registry and repository of the data elements represented in the fields on Standard and Optional Forms (SFs & OFs).  The registry/repository may prove to be the most important component of the xml.gov site and the XML Working Group’s strategy.

Where:  The registry and repository will be hosted on a Web-enabled server at GSA or NIST.  The virtual address will be an extension of xml.gov.  However, the standard provides for distributed, federated registries and repositories.  Neither the physical nor the virtual locations are as important as the fact that interoperability can be facilitated by compliance with the standard, thereby establishing a single, logical system across distributed sites.  To the degree that other organizations, including State and local agencies, may have resources to support interoperating repositories, it is in the interest of everyone to capitalize on such capabilities.

When:  The registry and repository will be activated early in FY 2001 for piloting with a select set of SFs (and perhaps OFs).  However, if the pilot is successful and the registry/repository becomes operational, additional funding will be required in FY 2002 and beyond to provide for ongoing maintenance; registration of additional forms, elements, and schemas; and scalability for additional usage.

How:  GSA and NIST will make available on the Internet the programming logic that NIST already possesses to support the registry/repository.   Forms managers at GSA will work with Offices of Primary Responsibility (OPRs) to register and make available in the repository the data elements and schemas used in SFs and OFs.

Why:  SFs and OFs embody the need for interoperability and, thus, data standardization across agencies.  The registry/repository will enable the next logical step to convert paper-based forms into intelligent, automated, customer-focused, standards-based and, thus, interoperable interfaces to information systems.  In particular, the registry will help to identify and thereby enable decision-makers to reconcile needless inconsistencies and redundancies in the data elements, schemas, and actual instances of data gathered across different forms and offices.  The CIO Council is responsible to the American taxpayers not only to reduce needless redundancies across Governmental information systems but also to ensure that inherently governmental data elements and schemas are effectively and efficiently identified, implemented, and used.

B.  Associated Affinity Group(s) Activities

In addition to OPRs and forms managers, agency data architects should be engaged in the process of registering and reviewing SF and OF data elements and schemas.

C. Milestone Schedule and Description

Milestone 1:  Pilot Registry/Repository
Start:  March 1, 2001
End:  September 30, 2001
Key Decision:  Whether to continue/terminate the pilot, or to proceed to the operational stage.
Deliverables/Responsibilities:
a. Registry/Repository – NIST and GSA
b. Registration of elements on the top 100 SFs &/or OFs – GSA & OPRs

Milestone 2:  Proceed to Operational Status
Start:  October 1, 2001
End:  Ongoing
Key Decision:  Whether usage warrants continuation.
Deliverables/Responsibilities:
a. Registration of elements on all SFs & OFs – GSA & OPRs
b. Review of existing elements for opportunities to share data elements and instances – OPRs & data architects

Milestone 3:  Information Collection Burden Reduction
Start:  October 1, 2002
End:  September 30, 2003[1]
Key Decision:  Whether to extend the registry to include all public-use forms, in addition to SFs and OFs used primarily within Government agencies.
Deliverables/Responsibilities:
a. Decision – OMB
b. Registration of elements and schemas – OPRs
c. Review of elements and schemas – OPRs & stakeholders
d. Reconciliation of needless inconsistencies and redundancies – OPRs, data architects, systems managers, GSA & OMB

D. Benefits

The registry/repository will contribute significantly to the strategic use of XML Governmentwide, specifically by helping to identify opportunities to share data elements, schemas, and instances of data across forms, offices, and systems.  By highlighting the elements of the interfaces (forms) through which human beings are called upon to supply data, this initiative will foster a truly customer-focused orientation in the design of information systems.  Rendering forms and data elements in XML will facilitate interoperability among systems and, thus, usability by people.

E. Measures

Initial output measures will include the number and percentages of SFs, OFs, data elements, and schemas registered in the system.  Subsequent quantitative outcome measures will include the number of times each element and schema is used. A secondary qualitative outcome measure will be whether the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) decides, based upon the success of the pilot, to use the system to support the information burden reduction process with respect to the clearance of public-use forms under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). Ultimately, the measures of success will be the degree to which the system:

a) is used to support the automation of all Government forms, including public-use forms as required by the Government Paperwork Elimination Act (GPEA); and

b) thereby helps to reduce the imposition of needless burdens upon the public.

F. Risk

The risks associated with implementation include the possibilities that the registry/repository may not: a) operate, technically speaking, as intended; b) provide the information desired by OPRs and data architects; and c) be used by OPRs, data architects, and systems designers.
The risk associated with not implementing the system include: a) the risk that OPRs, data architects, and systems managers will continue to develop and endeavor to force others to use forms, data elements and schemas, and information systems that fail to provide for interoperability; and b) failure to capitalize effectively and efficiently on the potential of XML to overcome that risk, including the failure of the CIO Council to play a meaningful role as others develop parallel, ill-coordinated, conflicting or competing XML lexicons.

G. Cost

FY 2001 -- Pilot with existing resources.[2]
FY 2002 -- $250,000[3]
Ongoing (Steady State) -- $3 million.[4]

H. Priority

At this point, this is the only funding initiative proposed by the XML Working Group.  However, if the registry/repository is successfully piloted with SFs and OFs, it could also be used to register the metadata elements by which agency records should be classified for purposes of searching, retrieval, access, and usage Governmentwide.  The priority of the latter potential task may depend upon external factors, such as plans for enhancing the functionality of FirstGov.gov and/or reauthorization of the Paperwork Reduction Act.



[1] This end date is proposed to support the deadline for forms to be made available online under the Government Paperwork Elimination Act (GPEA).  However, if this phase is implemented and is successful, it will become an ongoing operation.

[2] While we have indicated that the elements on the top 100 SFs and OFs will be registered in the pilot phase, we do not yet have a benchmark on which to judge how much work can be accomplished with existing resources.  We will be better prepared to provide cost estimates following the pilot.

[3] Until we have had a chance to benchmark the costs during the pilot phase, there is little basis on which to justify this figure.  Presumably, it will be more than enough to complete registration of all of the elements on all of the SFs and OFs.  However, it may not provide much, if any resources to reconcile needless redundancies and inconsistencies.  In the event that the pilot is successful, we anticipate working closely with the Architecture Working Group to share the costs and accomplish the required tasks.

[4] This figure should be considered descriptive in nature.  It is based upon the cost budgeted to support a similar metadata registry/repository at the Environmental Protection Agency.  The primary purpose for including it is to put the CIO Council on notice regarding the potential cost of successful implementation of the registry.  At this point we have no economic analysis demonstrating that the benefits will exceed the costs, but logically speaking, there is no way that the cost of sharing data efficiently can exceed the cost of doing so inefficiently, through ill- or uncoordinated stovepipe systems.