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GovLoop Project of the Week – National Information Exchange Model (NIEM)

Donna Roy, GovLoop Member, is the Executive Director of the National Information Exchange Model. She describes the program and its significance to government.

The National Information Exchange Model or NIEM program was established in 2005 by the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice (DHS and DOJ), to leverage the great work the State and local community on the Global Justice XML Data Model (GJXDM). While GXJXDM still exists as the Justice domain, NIEM now includes a data model that covers information exchange for the broader Homeland Security and Justice Communities. Infrastructure Protection, Immigration, People Screening, International Trade, and Emergency Management were included along with Justice.

The goal of the NIEM program is to increase the capacity for information all the while reducing IT deployment costs by 10-30%. Simply put, NIEM provides the tools to make IT more agile and cost effective.

NIEM as an information exchange standard is showing more than significant adoption. Passing the tipping point, NIEM is used within over 60% of the major IT programs within DHS, in all major programs at the DOJ, and is used in at least 42 of the 50 States. At the city level, NIEM is included is some very high profile projects such as New York City’s HHS Connect, and the City of Richmond’s

A new release of NIEM, adding 35% content is in its final BETA process. This release adds three new domains: Maritime Domain Awareness, Family Services and Chemical, Biological, Nuclear and Radiological (CBRN). NIEM 2.1 will be unveiled this fall.

NIEM is also being used is some very high profile projects sponsored by the current administration such as Recovery.gov. NIEM provides the core elements and the basics for developing the reporting schemas by which the status of funding is reported to the Federal Government. Most important is that NIEM is mentioned in the President’s FY10 Budget as an important program.

What does success look like?

Imagine seamless information flow into and out of State or Local Fusion Centers. Imagine living in a world where information is understood by a broad base of data consumers and data producers, where human intervention to extract, transform or load is no longer needed to create actionable information. Imagine Information Sharing at it best and you will see NIEM at the foundation. NIEM doesn’t make information sharing work, it makes it work better.

Success for NIEM includes the development and implementation of commercial tools that lower the barriers for adoption, and increase availability of training through distance learning methods. This includes an active outreach to industry to get NIEM built into Integrate Development Environment tools used by today’s IT workforce. NIEM provides critical tools for increasing information sharing between Federal, State, local, tribal, private sector and International partners. At the Federal level, NIEM is the basis for information exchange within the Federal Enterprise Architecture Program, recognized as the standard for sharing within the Program Manager, Information Sharing Environment, and is reporting significant cost avoidance for mid to large scale projects.

What challenges have you encountered and how have you overcome them?

The biggest challenge for driving success for the NIEM is getting the word out that it is not an UBER, all encompassing standard. Using NIEM is not an all or nothing proposition. For example, you can use NIEM where it provides the most value, and combine it with other great standards such as the OASIS Emergency Data Exchange Standards (EDXL) used in message routing for information exchange across first responders, or the Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) used for financial reporting from private industry to the Federal Government. Interoperability between NIEM and the UCore 2.0 standard is built in, which enables information sharing across DOD, DNI, DOJ as well as DHS.

What does the future look like?

The future is bright for NIEM. The program is exploring natural areas of growth such as developing new domains for Health and Human Services to assist in cross jurisdictional information exchange in cases such as the H1N1 reporting, or general bio-surveillance reporting in and out of State, Local and Tribal Fusion Centers. Additional areas of growth for cross jurisdictional information sharing include transportation and environmental data.

The program is hosting its inaugural training event in conjunction with the release of NIEM 2.1 in Baltimore from Sep 30th to Oct 2nd. With 6 full tracks, including a full track for the OASIS Emergency Interoperability Summit, three tracks for NIEM Implementers, and the keynote speech by Vinton G Cert, the event is certainly the one not to miss this fall. For more information on NIEM Program, or the NIEM National Training Event, visit the website.

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Very impressive. I’d be particularly interested in learning about the collaboration with NIEM – I imagine it takes a lot of great work to get people on the same page and coordinate. Everyone wants to always create their own standard but we need programs like NIEM to bring efficiency to the gov’t.

Corey McKenna

So that’s what NIEM is! It’s great to see a framework that provides information sharing in areas besides, but inclusive of, public safety.