Federal XML group starts strategic markup language

The CIO Council's XML Community of Practice has started building an extensible markup language-based schema that agencies could use to encode their strategic plans.

The Strategic Markup Language (StratML) pilot is seeking volunteers to help complete the task.

StratML could be used 'to standardize agency strategic plans and IT strategic plans,' said Adam Schwartz, project leader for the XML CoP. Schwartz, a program analyst in the program management office at the Government Printing Office, outlined the pilot at last week's XML CoP meeting.

The group will identify a set of common terms used across all strategic plans, according Schwartz, and will try to build interagency consensus on the precise definitions of terms such as mission, vision, values, goals and stakeholders.

Even though such terms are common, agency use varies, said Owen Ambur, originator of the StratML idea and co-chair of the XML CoP. One agency may use the phrase strategic vision, while another may use strategic plan to describe the same thing. In a term such as vision statement, the word statement may be redundant, Ambur offered as another example.

The resulting vocabulary, if adopted by federal agencies, could ensure that agency strategic plans align with the language and context of the Federal Enterprise Architecture and other government policies.

The group is making no recommendations to change any current federal policy.

The group plans to talk with the Chief Financial Officers Council to encourage its participation, as many CFOs are in charge of crafting agency strategic documents. The XML CoP's parent body, the CIO Council's Architecture and Infrastructure Committee, hasn't formally endorsed StratML, though pilot organizers will meet with them as well. Eventually, the team may submit the schema to an internal standards body, such as the International Organization for Standardization.

Initially, the pilot will be confined to a set of narrow goals, Schwartz said. In the first phase, the project will develop a vocabulary that agencies could use to help achieve information resource management objectives required by the E-Government Act of 2002. The team hopes to finish a draft to meet these goals by April.

The second phase of the project, beginning in May, will widen the scope of the language to include terminology required by the Governmentwide Performance and Results Act.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.


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