History of the XML Community of Practice (xml.gov CoP)

Upon the 4th Renewal of Our Charter by the Emerging Technology Subcommittee, Architecture and Infrastructure Committee, U.S. Chief Information Officers Council

November 2006

On May 18, 2000, the AIC (formerly called the Enterprise Information and Emerging Information Technology Committee) received and reviewed a report submitted by a team that had been charged with researching the potential of Extensible Markup Language (XML) to improve the efficiency of Federal information management. XML is a standard recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). It defines a general method for describing the semantics of data structures. The report identified an opportunity to accelerate and increase the effectiveness by which XML is implemented by Federal agencies, and recommended that the Committee charter a working group to implement the program of activities and projects outlined in the report.

The XML Working Group (xmlWG) was initially
chartered to operate for a period of approximately two years, through September 30, 2002 . During that period, the xmlWG reserved and began populating the xml.gov domain, conducted monthly meetings and informational briefings, developed a basic strategy, and identified several tasks and deliverables that are documented on the xml.gov site. The initial charter expressly stated, "The XMLWG will not take on continuing operational or policy responsibilities." Subsequently, the AIC was directed to assume a more operational orientation. Thus, when the xmlWG was rechartered for two additional years, through September 30, 2004, it was charged with taking a more operational (as opposed to educational) focus, in the sense of proposing for consideration by the AIC specific product deliverables that will generate significant benefits to multiple government agencies, including not only Federal but also State and local agencies.

Tasks identified and pursued under the revised charter in 2003 are documented at ../in_progress/tasks.htm. Foremost among them was the XML registry pilot. The status and history of the XML registry pilot are documented at http://xml.fido.gov/registries.asp. Other tasks for which leaders volunteered included a proposed XML namespace policy and enhancement/updating of the XML Developers Guide. Those and other voluntary tasks are documented at ../in_progress/proposedtasks.htm .

When the CIOC reorganized its committee structure in 2003, three subcommittees were formed under the auspices of the AIC – Governance, Components, and Emerging Technology. The charter for the ET S/C is available at http://cio.gov/documents/Leveraging_Technology_Final_Draft.pdf. The ET S/C was subsequently tasked with developing a process whereby the emerging technology life-cycle can be more efficiently and effectively managed on a Governmentwidebasis. In support of the ET S/C’s tasking, the xmlWG outlined an eight-stage process; proposed elements for the first three stages of the process, which are within the purview of the ET S/C; drafted an XML schema (XSD) for the first stage of the process; and participated in developing a proof-of-concept pilot that was demonstrated at the XML 2003 conference. The operational version of the site was launched in March 2005 and is available at http://et.gov/ . The history, principles, and authority for the site are outlined at http://et.gov/history.htm .

As previously chartered, the purpose of the xmlWG was to accelerate, facilitate and catalyze the effective and appropriate implementation of XML technology in the information systems and planning of the Federal Government. In coordination with other CIO Council committees and working groups, the xmlWG was authorized to:

1) Identify and, when necessary, develop XML best practices and recommended standards;

2) Foster partnerships with key industry and public interest groups developing and implementing XML standards and best practices;

3) Foster partnerships among communities of interest/practice involving agencies at all levels of government to capitalize as rapidly and effectively as possible on the potential benefits of XML to citizens and taxpayers;

4) Conduct "results-oriented" education and outreach; and

5) Propose for consideration by the AIC specific projects and products benefiting stakeholders of multiple Federal agencies.

In September 2004, the xmlWG was rechartered as the XML Community of Practice (xmlCoP) for a period of two years, until September 30, 2006, and authorized to continue the activities for which the xmlWG was previously chartered while redirecting its focus to:

(a) assist with implementation of the ET process, and

(b) facilitate collaboration on and review of XML-based "components" within that process, which in some instances may involve the use of CORE.gov.

Late in 2005 the second version of the Data Reference Model (DRM 2.0) was issued as an abstract model by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). To enable implementation of the DRM by agencies, Lines of Business (LOBs), and eGov projects in a readily shareable format, an XML schema incorporating the elements of the DRM abstract model was drafted, albeit without any official status or endorsement. Version 0.4 of the draft XSD for the DRM, compiled in December 2005, was posted at http://xml.coverpages.org/FEA-DRM-SchemaDraftV04-20060103.xsd . In 2006, the CIOC/AIC's Components Subcommittee was recommissioned as the Services Subcommittee and a new Data Architecture Subcommittee was formed to provide leadership with respect to Governmentwide implementation of DRM 2.0.

In support of the goals and objectives outlined in the CIOC's strategic plan, including the activities of the Data Architecture Subcommittee and the Services Subcommittee, the xml.gov CoP is being rechartered to continue to foster the formation of communities of practice (CoPs) around emerging information technology components and services based on the W3C’s XML standard and related voluntary consensus standards.