StratML digests Obama administration's agenda

The working group for the Strategic Markup Language (StratML) has rendered the Obama-Biden agenda for the upcoming administration into an Extensible Markup Language-based format, one that highlights the strategic goals for the next administration.

"I copied the Obama-Biden agenda, from the change.gov site, into the StratML format," said Owen Ambur. Ambur, co-chair of the AIIM StratML Committee, and former co-chair of the Federal CIO Council's XML Community of Practice, tagged the plan as a demonstration of StratML's capabilities. "For the most part it fit pretty well."

The plan was also submitted to a searchable repository of other StratML plans, which was developed as a prototype by XML server vendor MarkLogic.

Overseen by AIIM, StratML designed to encapsulate strategic plans in an XML-based format so that they can be easily indexed, shared and aggregated. StratML will also allow agencies to ensure that their strategic goals align with policies, standards and objectives, and measure how successfully these goals were executed.

Although it was not specifically written for government use, StratML could potentially be useful for agencies. The 1993 Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) mandates that agencies develop long-term strategic plans and annual performance reports. StratML will offer a uniform format for presenting these plans and, eventually, reporting on their success.

That uniformity could benefit agencies and other interested parties. For example, the GPRA requires agencies to identify their stakeholders when assembling their strategic plans. To do this, agencies often hold meetings, or solicit feedback in other ways, with varying degrees of success.

With a StratML markup of agency strategic plans, stakeholders — which could be employees, constituents, advocacy groups or other agencies — would have an easy way to drill down through the plans to find the goals that are pertinent to them.

"You can do just a search and comment on it directly, rather than first having to find where the darn thing is, read through [a] 150-page PDF to find something that might of interest to you, and then try to figure out how to reference it in a way that the agency knows what you are talking about," Ambur said. "Through a search service, stakeholders could automatically discover the objectives of interest to them."

Ambur said he hoped the formatted agenda could serve as an example for the new administration about the power of extending social networking and collaborative tools.

Codifying the Obama/Biden agenda serves has also helped the StratML development team further define what still needs to be done to StratML. While the AIIM working group is finalizing the StratML core, future work will be done to incorporate terms for describing performance plans and reports, and to allow users to place goals and objectives in multiple categories of taxonomies.

"One of the things I learned in converting the Change.gov agenda is that a number of the goals are reiterated under two or more sections of the agenda. In part, that is because they apply to multiple stakeholder groups," Ambur wrote in an e-mail message. The document "reflects a desire to place goals and objectives in multiple categories of taxonomies, a requirement we plan to address."

The MarkLogic repository thus far has about 400 StratML plans, some of which are from government agencies. The advantage of the repository is that "you can search across plans," Ambur said.

An interesting quirk is that when a search is done for the term "change," the Obama-Biden agenda only comes up as the 33rd listing. "So change is not exactly a new concept" among large organizations, Ambur said.

About the Author

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

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