If you're at all interested in what the Federal Government will do with web services, one thing to keep your eye on is the Data and Information Reference Model that's one layer in the Federal Enterprise Architecture. The DRM is important because its the key to transforming government. Application integration is only part of the problem. Fundamental data analysis and modeling is the foundation upon which collaborative applications can be built.
If you follow the link to the web site, you may be disappointed small amount of content there; the DRM is the least developed of the enterprise architecture layers. Still, if you dig around there's plenty of information available on what people are thinking. Here's some of it.
The DRM is:
- Business-focused data standardization.
- Cross-agency information exchanges.
- Federated Registries and Repositories organized according to the Business Reference Model.
- An agile framework for building new cross-agency applications and services.
The DRM will not be:
- A government-wide data model.
- A government-wide markup language.
The last bullet is particularly important. The goal isn't to build a complete data model, but to build the meta-model that data lives in. Probably the best example of collaborative data sharing and collection in government at present is the FedStats web site.
So, what does this have to do with XML and web services? At its core, the DRM is addressing that problem of data sharing and that's what XML is good for. The move seems to be to use XML repositories and registries to build these data models. There are a number of projects around the Federal Government that are being pointed to as "pilots" for DRM efforts. One example is the Global Justice Information Network effort with XML that I've referenced before.. Another example is an IRS Small Business Resource Guide project. It may look like HTML upfront, but underneath its all XML and can be easily repurposed with different views for different users.