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CHIPS Articles: The Department of the Navy Signs XML Policy

The Department of the Navy Signs XML Policy
By CHIPS Magazine - April-June 2003
The Department of the Navy’s (DON) continuing efforts to transform its information technology and information management solutions suite took a major step forward with the signing of the DON Extensible Markup Language (XML) policy by DON Chief Information Officer Dave Wennergren on December 13, 2002.

The policy, which replaces an interim policy issued in fall 2001, sets parameters for how the DON will use XML — the technology that facilitates information exchange and interoperability by allowing programmers to assign information tags and attributes to data and documents. It is the first-ever formal XML policy issued by a United States military department.

"Interoperability is a cornerstone of DON efforts to strengthen its interdependent operations and, subsequently, improve the warfighter’s ability to find, retrieve, process, and exchange information," said Wennergren in the December policy memorandum. "The Department, like many government and private sector organizations, has increasingly looked to XML technology for its data sharing needs."

In addition to outlining how the Department will use XML to better find, retrieve, process, and exchange data, the policy provides direction to help DON officials manage areas critical to successful XML implementation. These areas include XML technical specifications usage, XML standard components selection, adherence to business standards that define specific XML data vocabularies, and participation in XML-related technical and business standards bodies.

The policy also directs the DONXML Work Group and Functional Area Managers to formally establish XML Functional Namespace Coordinators (FNCs) for the Department’s 23 functional areas established in November 2001. As XML vocabulary monitors, FNCs will be responsible for helping to develop, manage, and coordinate DON XML vocabularies, or "namespaces," within their functional areas and across the DON enterprise.

Namespace coordination is vital to XML’s success. Inconsistency and a lack of uniformity in XML vocabularies will prevent systems and applications from easily exchanging information and degrade, rather than enhance, interoperability.

"Successful XML implementation requires a firm commitment to coordination," said Wennegren. "I strongly encourage [commanders] to review and adhere to this policy, which is a crucial part of our work to foster XML coordination among DON programs and commands."

The XML policy is part of a comprehensive Department-wide XML implementation strategy. In 2001, the DON Chief Information Officer created the DONXML Work Group to provide leadership and guidance to the Department’s XML efforts through focused action teams.

In addition to the DON XML policy, which names the DONXML Work Group as the Department’s interim XML governance structure, other Work Group products have included a vision document outlining the Department’s objectives for successful XML implementation across the DON (March 2002) and the XML Developer’s Guide, Version 1.1 (May 2002). The XML Developers Guide provides DON developers with important information about XML specifications, component selection/creation, schema design, and component naming conventions.

The DONXML Work Group Chairperson is Michael Jacobs.

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