US Navy formalises XML management

The US Department of the Navy has announced the creation of its XML Business Standards Council (BSC), the first of four...

The US Department of the Navy has announced the creation of its XML Business Standards Council (BSC), the first of four working-level groups that will form the basis for the service's first enterprisewide XML governance structure.

Navy chief information officer Dave Wennergren will preside over the BSC meeting, which was formed to promote the use of common data elements and objects that make it easier for systems to exchange information.

The BCS will co-ordinate XML component usage within and across the Navy's 23 functional areas, which include human resources and finance, as well as other Navy and Pentagon organisations and federal agencies. 

The BSC will, eventually, be joined by three groups that will focus on addressing technical standards, policy procedures and training and education. Together they will form the core of the Navy's XML governance structure, overseeing XML specifications to support more than 500,000 Navy IT users around the world. 

The formation of the BCS comes two months after Wennergren issued the Navy's first official XML usage policy and one month after the naming of 23 functional namespace coordinators responsible for developing and managing Navy XML vocabularies. Navy officials said the formation of the BSC will ensure that the entire Navy - one of the largest organisations to create an XML-focused business structure - remains interoperable in the future. 

"Early on, we realised that XML was starting to be implemented in different pockets across the Navy," said Michael Jacobs, chairman of the Navy's XML Work Group, which was formed in August 2001. "And we realised that a high degree of co-ordination would be required to have a successful implementation that improves interoperability, as opposed to hampering it." 

After studying the issue for a year, the Navy issued its formal usage policy which Jacobs said, provides comprehensive guidance on how to use existing specifications and calls for component reuse whenever possible. It also prohibits the use of proprietary extensions to industry specifications. 

"The policy urges commands to use the specifications from the W3C [World Wide Web Consortium] and other consortiums such as Oasis," said Jacobs.

"And if there are conflicting specifications, the W3C takes precedence," said Jacobs. "We know there are reasons that developers might want to use other specifications, but for an enterprise that's trying to improve interoperability, that's just going to make it worse." 

Patrick Gannon, president and chief executive officer of the e-business standards consortium Oasis, said the Navy's establishment of an XML BSC is a reflection of the Navy's commitment to working with private industry on standards development.

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