Statement of Requirements for Enhancing the ET.gov Site
to More Fully Meet the Needs of the IPv6 Work Group & Other Communities of Practice

September 26, 2006 – DRAFT

In order to keep the bar to entry as low as possible, Stage 1 of the CIO Council’s emerging technology life-cycle management process currently encompasses only four required elements. Those elements are specified in the schema at http://et.gov/ETgovSchema.xsd and represented in more readily human-readable form at http://et.gov/component_info.aspx

Three of those required elements are indexed and available for searching, browsing, and sorting at http://et.gov/component_search.aspx

If submitters choose to do so, they may also provide information about the organizations with which they are affiliated. Those optional elements are represented in the form at http://et.gov/business_info.aspx, and if an organization name is provided, it is also available for sorting, browsing, and searching at http://et.gov/component_search.aspx The “business information” elements of the schema conform to those of the Central Contractor Registry (CCR) in the event it may be appropriate to share such data as ET components are demonstrated and proven, thus maturing and becoming candidates for acquisition from vendors registered in the CCR.

The lengths of the fields for the elements that are required and indexed on the ET.gov site are relatively short in order to prevent vendors from “spamming” the site with marketing materials. However, submitters can provide as much information as they wish in the required “Benefits to the Government” field, and such information is available via hypertext links to the source documents posted on the submitters’ own Web sites (or intermediary sites they choose to use).

No personally identifying or other sensitive data is stored on the ET.gov site.  The documents registered for indexing must conform to the schema for Stage 1 of the ET.gov process and be available at a publicly accessible Web address (URL). While they are not reviewed for quality, submissions are reviewed for relevance and indexing will be denied to any containing information clearly inappropriate for indexing on the site. Since the source documents are posted on the public Web, they are also indexed by general purpose search engines, like Google and, to the degree they may be posted on .gov or .mil sites, they may also be indexed by FirstGov.

Thus, consistent with the citizen-centricity principle of the President’s Management Agenda (PMA), users are free to use whatever search service they prefer in order to discover and access such information. Unlike most so-called “one-stop” Web sites, the ET.gov site is the antithesis of a “stovepipe” information technology (IT) system. It is designed to facilitate the sharing of information on a widely distributed basis, rather than forcing anyone to know about the site, much less use it to find information about emerging technologies of interest to them.

The structure of the XML schema for the description of ET components and specifications enables far more powerful and precise searching than possible through general-purpose full-text search services. For example, i411 has developed a faceted search service prototype providing capabilities not available on the ET.gov site itself, much less via Google or FirstGov – including the capability to browse and search for components and specifications based upon the Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA) Service Component Reference Model (SRM) and Technical Reference Model (TRM).

Similar services can easily be implemented to build specialized indices on any and all facets of the ET.gov schema. Interested service providers are not required to crawl the Web because a listing of the URLs for all of the registered ET component and specification descriptions is provided at http://www.et.gov/component_list.aspx

If a community of practice (CoP) has formed around any component or specification identified and indexed on the ET.gov site in Stage 1 of the process and the CoP is using a publicly accessible collaborative Web, a link will be provided at http://et.gov/stage2.htm if at least a few .gov or .mil employees are participating in collaboration on the site.

Whereas the purpose of Stage 1 is merely to facilitate the identification and, in turn, the discovery of emerging technology components and specifications, the purpose of Stage 2 is to facilitate the formation of CoPs around those of particular interest to .gov and .mil agencies. Resources have not yet been available to automate the process of identifying ET CoPs and collaborative Web sites, much less subscribing to those CoPs and sites, so the listing is currently maintained manually at http://et.gov/stage2.htm#cops

ET CoPs that appear to have sufficient resources to successfully demonstrate the practical utility and usability of the components or specifications around with they are collaborating will be promoted to Stage 3 of the process, in which the co-chairs of the CIOC’s Emerging Technology Subcommittee agree to accept “stewardship” of the CoP. CoPs achieving that status are listed at http://et.gov/stage3.htm#cops As with Stage 2, resources have not yet been available to automate the process of determining when to promote CoPs to Stage 3 or enabling the co-chairs or system administrators to do so. However, some of the potential criteria for promotion to Stage 3 are highlighted at http://et.gov/stage3.htm

Components and specifications whose practical utility and usability, including conformance to relevant voluntary consensus standards, have been proven become candidates for “graduation” in Stage 4 of the ET.gov process: http://et.gov/stage4.htm Upon graduation from the process, they become candidates for acquisition and use by agencies as well as cross-cutting Lines of Business (LOBs) and eGov projects. While no components or specifications have yet completed the process, it is reasonable to expect that any that do so must be appropriately mapped into the FEA TRM as a mandatory requirement for “graduation” from the ET.gov process and, eventually, for acquisition by any .gov or .mil agency, LOB, or eGov project.

In the early stages of the ET.gov process, use of the TRM elements is optional, but usage of those elements will facilitate discovery of proposed components and specifications, using services like i411’s. Although the TRM may be a bit of a mystery to vendors, getting the mappings right is not critical in the early stages. Perfecting the mappings into the FEA TRM and SRM, as well as the Data Reference Model (DRM) is part of the value to be added by CoPs forming around those components and specifications, i.e., to help make sense of them in terms of how they fit into the Federal enterprise as a single, logical entity in service to the American citizen.

IPv6 Work Group Requirements

The IPv6 Work Group has identified a need for additional data beyond that which is already encompassed in the schema, forms, and views for Stage 1 of the ET.gov site. As a starting point for discussion, the table below lists the conceptual element names and suggested data types and lengths that may be required, along with potential mappings to existing elements in the schema for Stage 1 and/or potential more generically named elements to support additional CoPs (besides just the IPv6 WG) in Stage 1 as well as subsequent stages of the ET.gov process.

The number in the ET Stage column indicates that the element will be available in the schema, forms, and perhaps the views for that stage, with an asterisk (*) indicating that the element is mandatory at that stage. The assumption is that valid and correct information will be required for all of the elements as a mandatory condition for graduation from the process. An asterisk in the Generic Name column indicates the element is already in the ET.gov Stage 1 schema.

Parent Element Name

Child Element Name

Type

Length

ET Stage

Generic ET.gov Element Name

Manufacturer

 

Varchar

30

1*

OrganizationName*

 

Model

Varchar

30

1*

ComponentName*

 

Version

Varchar

10

1

Version

 

Release

Varchar

10

1

Release

 

Update

Varchar

10

1

Update

 

(POC info)

 

 

 

As per CCR & ET.gov Submitter Information form*

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

 

Varchar

255

1*

ComponentDescription*

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operating System

 

Varchar

50

1

Technical Specification* (Mapping to appropriate OS in TRM element?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Planned IPv6 Ready Date

 

Date

 

1

AnticipatedConformanceDate

Actual IPv6 Ready Date

 

Date

 

1

AssertedConformanceDate

 

 

 

 

 

 

Test Certifier

 

Varchar

 

2

OrganizationName* (ConformanceAuthority?  Controlled vocabulary, Web Service referenceable list provided by NIST at Standards.gov?)

Test Type

 

Varchar

50

2

ConformanceType

(Controlled vocabulary, Web Service referenceable list provided by NIST at Standards.gov?)

Recertification Date

 

Date

 

2

ConformanceDate

(Repeatable element, associated with Test Type and ComponentNameVersionRelease?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Product Category

 

Varchar

50

1

Relationship to SRM? Web Service referenceable list provided by community, in conformance with ET.gov schema, on the community’s collaborative site?

 

Description

Varchar

255

1

Relationship to SRM? Provided by community on its site?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standard

 

Varchar

50

1

TechnicalSpecification*

Standard Body

 

Varchar

30

2

OrganizationName*

(Controlled vocabulary, Web Service referenceable list provided by NIST at Standards.gov?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Business Category

 

Varchar

50

3

CommunitySpecificCategory (Web Service referenceable controlled vocabulary, taxonomy provided by the community on its collaborative site?)

 

Business Subcategory

Varchar

50

3

CommunitySpecificSubcategory (Provided by the community?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comment

 

Varchar

255

1

GovernmentBenefits*

These potential elements should be harmonized with the existing elements of Stage 1 of the ET.gov process and made sufficiently generic to have broad application to many ET CoPs while at the same time conveying meaning that is clear enough to be readily applied by the average participant in any CoP, including the IPv6 Work Group.

Since the enhancements will be funded by the IPv6 Work Group, the minimum requirements they specify will define the mandatory requirements for the upgrade.

Other Desirable Enhancements

To the degree that sufficient resources may be available, the additional enhancements would be highly desirable, generally in the following order of priority, taking into account the relative cost of making each logically separable prospective enhancement:

1.      FEA Updates – Incorporate any changes to the FEA SRM and/or TRM into the ET.gov schema and Component Information form. With respect to the TRM, see also item 7 below.

2.      DRM Element(s) – Include in the schema and Component Information form for Stage 1 an optional element enabling the association of components and specifications with one of the three top-level “standardization areas” of the FEA Data Reference Model. The controlled vocabulary (enumeration list) for such an element is: Data Description, Data Categorization, and Data Sharing.

2.1    If a DRM-related element is included, it should be possible for users of the ET.gov site to selectively query and display components and specifications under each of those three categories, perhaps by adding a DRM Standardization Area drop down list to the search parameters form at http://et.gov/component_search.aspx

3.      ET CoP Collaborative Sites – Provide a form similar to the Register XML Instance form for leaders of ET CoPs to provide the URLs for their collaborative Web sites. The Register XML Instance form is available at http://et.gov/registerxml.aspx

3.1    If ET CoP leaders are able to self-identify the URLs for their collaborative sites, it will also be necessary to enable users of the ET.gov site to discover and click on the links to those sites, either by:

3.1.1      providing a searchable and sortable view of links to the sites (in association with the names of the components/specifications they are addressing) at http://et.gov/stage2.htm#cops &/or

3.1.2      adding the CoP site links to the basic search view at http://et.gov/component_search.aspx

3.2    Besides the URLs, it may also be appropriate to enable CoP leaders to provide brief comments about their sites and/or the types of people they’d like to engage in collaboration, along the lines of the information currently provided at http://et.gov/stage2.htm#cops For example, some sites may be limited to .gov &/or .mil folks only.

3.3    It may be appropriate to require that at least one or perhaps two individuals with .gov or .mil E-mail addresses must confirm the submission of the URL for ET CoP collaborative site, as a means of demonstrating the participation of .gov &/or .mil folks in the CoP.

4.      TRM Enhancements – If users completing the Component Information form know the name of the Technical Specification at the fourth layer of the TRM, they should be able to enter it into that field without having to select the values in the upper three layers.  Those layers should automatically be populated based upon the values entered in the fourth layer of the hierarchy.

4.1   The default value in the Technical Specification layer should be “Unspecified”.

4.2    If the users do not know the exact name of the applicable specification or whether it is already in the TRM, they should be able to query by example on that field to:

4.2.1      determine the exact name &/or acronym (controlled vocabulary) of the specification, or

4.2.2      know with some degree of confidence that it is not yet referenced in the TRM, in which case they could propose to include it, using the Propose Specification feature already provided.

4.3   Users querying the ET.gov site should be able to discover components associated with any particular technical specification included in the TRM, as well as any specification proposed for inclusion in the TRM.

5.      Promotion to Stage 3 – It should be possible for the ET Subcommittee co-chairs or, more likely, system administrators to promote CoPs to Stage 3 simply by clicking on a check box.

5.1    If promotion to Stage 3 can be automated, a view of CoPs at that stage should appear at http://et.gov/stage3.htm#cops or it should be possible to selectively view components at that stage at http://et.gov/component_search.aspx

5.2    To the degree that it may be possible to implement item 6 below, it should also be possible for the ET Subcommittee co-chairs &/or system administrators to query, browse, and sort ET components and specifications based upon the relative degrees of interest, expertise, and commitment associated with each.

6.      ET CoP Subscription – In Stage 2, it should be possible for users to express their degrees of interest, commitment, and expertise in components and specifications identified in Stage 1, along the lines of the elements identified at http://xml.gov/draft/ETLifeCycleStage2.htm  As with the identification of the components and specifications themselves in Stage 1, individuals should be able to “subscribe” to them by posting XML instance documents conforming to the schema for Stage 2 on their own agencies’ Web sites or other intermediary sites.

6.1    If it is possible to accommodate this desirable feature, it should also be possible to query and sort components and specifications based upon the degrees of interest, commitment, and expertise associated with each, including the:

6.1.1      numbers of individuals and agencies expressing interest in each component or specification,

6.1.2      absolute (numeric value) of commitments associated with each,

6.1.3      relative degrees of expertise associated with each.

6.2    To the degree it may be possible to display such ratings and rankings, it should be possible for the co-chairs of the ET Subcommittee and/or system administrators to use that information to assist in determining which components and specifications are ready for promotion to Stage 3.

6.3    Anyone should be able to query the site to discover and click on the links to subscription documents, and individual ET CoPs may wish to provide specialized indices pointing to relevant sets of them on their own collaborative Web sites.

6.4    Prospects should be explored for integrating the ET.gov subscription process into the Standards.gov site and automating the annual NTTAA/OMB Circular A-119 reporting process, based upon real-time assertions of agency commitments to the development, implementation and use of specifications developed by voluntary consensus standards organizations.

7.      Automated Support for the TRM – To the degree that any technical specification identified in Stage 1 has been approved by a duly recognized voluntary consensus standards body and is subject to actual usage or firm commitments to usage by a specified number of .gov &/or .mil agencies, the ET.gov site/process should automatically flag such specifications as potential candidates for inclusion in the TRM.

7.1    Upon confirmation of such information, such as by an agency Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Chief Architect, it should be possible for authorized individuals, such as the ET Subcommittee co-chairs &/or system administrators, to approve candidates for inclusion in the TRM, simply by clicking a check box.

7.2    Clicking the check box should automatically include the specification in the TRM.

7.3    The authoritative source of the TRM should be an XML file named trm.xml hosted at a stable URL on the public Web.

7.4   The TRM should be readily available via Web Services and perhaps RSS, Atom and/or other standard means at Standards.gov as well as via FirstGov and other, more specialized indexing and search services.

8.      Layers of the SRM – It may be appropriate to:

8.1    automatically populate the upper layer of the SRM based upon the values selected in the drop-down list on the Service Type field on the form at http://et.gov/stage2.htm#cops &/or

8.2    enable submitters to classify their components and specifications more granularly at the third and currently the lowest layer of SRM, as identified at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/egov/a-4-srm.html

9.      ET Component Features & Functions – It may be appropriate to enable ET component CoPs to specify the generic features and functions that are commonly applicable to the components of particular interest to them, along with the metrics that are appropriate for comparison of the performance of components of each type. If that function can be served, it should also be possible to:

9.1   associate relevant conformance test types and conformance assertion authorities (organizations) with each related set of component features and functions,

9.2    reference conformance documentation provided by such authorities, and

9.3   enable query and discovery of such references (URLs) on the ET.gov site.

10.  Automated Promotion to Stage 4 – While it probably is beyond the scope of enhancements that should be attempted at this time, at some point it would be good to incorporate into the site/process the capability to use verified test criteria/results to automatically determine when components have “graduated” from the process and, thus, become low-risk candidates for acquisition and use by .gov and .mil agencies.

11.  Retirement of Technical Specifications – With reference to Stage 8 of the ET.gov process, it should be possible to semi-automatically remove or designate as deprecated technical specifications in the TRM when they can be replaced by new and demonstrably better standards.

12.  ET.gov Site Hosting Fee – Provision should be made for institutionalizing payment of the annual site hosting fee for the ET.gov site (and perhaps also the xml.gov site).