GAO Reports of Interest (Nov 2011)

Biosurveillance: Nonfederal Capabilities Should Be Considered in Creating a National Biosurveillance Strategy
GAO-12-55, October 31 (101 pages)
Highlights –
Tags: Health Care

Information Technology: Critical Factors Underlying Successful Major Acquisitions
GAO-12-7, October 21 (57 pages)
Highlights –
Tags: Government Operations; Information Technology

DHS Research and Development: Science and Technology Directorate’s Test and Evaluation and Reorganization Efforts
GAO-12-239T, November 17 (14 pages)
Tags: Homeland Security; Science and Technology

Cybersecurity Human Capital: Initiatives Need Better Planning and Coordination
GAO-12-8, November 29 (86 pages)
Highlights –
Tags: Employment; Human Capital; Information Security

Nuclear Fuel Cycle Options: DOE Needs to Enhance Planning for Technology Assessment and Collaboration with Industry and Other Countries
GAO-12-70, October 17 (76 pages)
Highlights –
Tags: Energy

Recovery Act: Status of Science-Related Funding
GAO-12-279T, November 30 (23 pages)
Highlights –
Tags: Government Operations

Climate Change Adaptation: Federal Efforts to Provide Information Could Help Government Decision Making
GAO-12-238T, November 16 (13 pages)
Highlights –
Tags: Natural Resources and Environment

Arizona Border Surveillance Technology: More Information on Plans and Costs Is Needed before Proceeding
GAO-12-22, November 4 (58 pages)
Highlights –
Tags: Health Care; Homeland Security

Transportation Security Information Sharing: Results of GAO’s Survey of Stakeholder Satisfaction with TSA Products and Mechanisms
(GAO-12-67SP, November 2011), an E-supplement to GAO-12-44, GAO-12-67SP, November 21
Tags: Information Management; Transportation

Transportation Security Information Sharing: Stakeholders Generally Satisfied but TSA Could Improve Analysis, Awareness, and Accountability
GAO-12-44, November 21 (58 pages)
Highlights –
Tags: Information Management; Transportation

GAO Reports of Interest (Oct 2011)

Through their goal of providing “timely information that is objective, fact-based, nonpartisan, nonideological, fair, and balanced”, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is one of the most important offices in government. As such, here are some of the latest reports I find particularly relevant and interesting, and at least worth a skim of the highlights and recommendations.

Information Sharing: Progress Made and Challenges Remaining in Sharing Terrorism-Related Information
GAO-12-144T, October 12 (23 pages)
Highlights –
Tags: Homeland Security, Information Management

Federal Chief Information Officers: Opportunities Exist to Improve Role in Information Technology Management
GAO-11-634, September 15 (72 pages)
Highlights –
Tags: Information Technology

Quadrennial Homeland Security Review: Enhanced Stakeholder Consultation and Use of Risk Information Could Strengthen Future Reviews
GAO-11-873, September 15 (69 pages)
Highlights –
Tags: Homeland Security

Data Mining: DHS Needs to Improve Executive Oversight of Systems Supporting Counterterrorism
GAO-11-742, September 7 (75 pages)
Highlights –
Tags: Information Management, Information Technology

Information Security: Additional Guidance Needed to Address Cloud Computing Concerns
GAO-12-130T, October 6 (17 pages)
Highlights –
Tags: Information Security

Information Security: Weaknesses Continue Amid New Federal Efforts to Implement Requirements
GAO-12-137, October 3 (49 pages)
Highlights –
Tags: Information Security

Information Technology: OMB Needs to Improve Its Guidance on IT Investments
GAO-11-826, September 29 (58 pages)
Highlights –
Tags: Information Technology

Aviation Safety: Enhanced Oversight and Improved Availability of Risk- Based Data Could Further Improve Safety
GAO-12-24, October 5 (65 pages)
Highlights –
Tags: Transportation

Language and Culture Training: Opportunities Exist to Improve Visibility and Sustainment of Knowledge and Skills in Army and Marine Corps General Purpose Forces
GAO-12-50, October 31 (46 pages)
Highlights –
Tags: National Defense

Warfighter Support: DOD Has Made Progress, but Supply and Distribution Challenges Remain in Afghanistan
GAO-12-138, October 7 (79 pages)
Highlights –
Tags: National Defense

National Preparedness: Improvements Needed for Acquiring Medical Countermeasures to Threats from Terrorism and Other Sources
GAO-12-121, October 26 (58 pages)
Highlights –
Tags: Health Care, Homeland Security

Income Security: The Effect of the 2007-2009 Recession on Older Adults
GAO-12-172T, October 18 (10 pages)
Tags: Retirement Security

Federal Bureau of Investigation: Actions Taken to Address Most Procurement Recommendations
GAO-11-794, September 6 (39 pages)
Highlights –
Tags: Government Operations, Information Technology

EPA Health Risk Assessments: Oversight and Sustained Management Key to Overcoming Challenges
GAO-12-148T, October 6 (12 pages)
Tags: Health Care, Natural Resources and Environment

Health Care Price Transparency: Meaningful Price Information Is Difficult for Consumers to Obtain Prior to Receiving Care
GAO-11-791, September 23 (43 pages)
Highlights –
Tags: Health Care

Federal Courthouses: Improved Collaboration Needed to Meet Demands of a Complex Security Environment
GAO-11-857, September 28 (51 pages)
Highlights –
Tags: Homeland Security

National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) Practical Implementer’s Course Notes – XML Conceptual Review (Lesson 2)

NIEM Practical Implementer’s Course
Lesson 2 – XML Conceptual Review

Core Definitions

  • Elements: The tags that exist within an XML document, collectively termed the “markup”. Types of elements include root, parent, and child.
  • Attributes: Part(s) of an XML element that provide(s) additional information about that element. Attributes are defined and written as a name/value pair (e.g. name=”value” ).
  • Instance: A document containing XML tags and content that results from use of XML schema rules.
  • Well-Formed Instance: An XML instance is “well-formed” if it uses the correct syntax and structure as defined by XML standard(s) being used and meets the minimum criteria for XML parsers to read the document.

General Notes

  • Rules/Guidelines for XML Elements
    • Can contain letters, numbers, and other characters.
    • Must not start with number or punctuation.
    • Must not start with xml, XML, or Xml.
    • Cannot contain spaces.
    • Should be descriptive to contained information.
    • Avoid dashes, colons, and periods (allowed, but usually are reserved for namespaces).
    • Avoid non-English letters/characters (allowed, but may not always be supported).
  • XML Prolog & Processing Instructions
    • Prolog specifies the version and the character encoding used for the XML instance and should always come first in every document.
    • Processing instructions are used to associate presentation and/or transformation files with the data.
  • XML Comments
    • Start with “<!– ” and end with ” –>”
    • Can include linebreaks.


Note: Information is being shared under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 (CC BY-SA) license. Original content was created by NIEM course instructors Jenness, Owen, and Carlson.

National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) Practical Implementer’s Course Notes – Anatomy of an XML Exchange (Lesson 1)

NIEM Practical Implementer’s Course
Lesson 1 – Anatomy of an XML Exchange

Core Definitions

  • XML: eXtensible Mark‐up Language used to define and serialize data as well as define schemas, transformation rules, web services and visual presentation.
  • Message: One or more XML documents containing the data to be shared.
  • Publisher: An entity / software program that initiates a “One Way” exchange.
  • Subscriber: An entity / software program that receives messages in a “One Way” exchange.
  • Requestor: An entity / software program that initiates a “Two Way” exchange.
  • Responder: An entity / software program that receives “Request Messages” and returns “Response Messages” in a “Two Way” exchange.
  • Web Service: A type of program that allows a remote system (client) to interact with a program on a local system (server) using XML messages.
  • XML Document (.xml): A file that contains actual data and conforms to the rules of XML syntax (also known as an “Instance Document”).
  • XML Schema Document (.xsd): A set of rules to which an XML document must conform in order to be considered “valid”.
  • Web Service Description Language (.wsdl): Pronounced “wiz‐dull”, a document (containing XML) that describes the functionality of a Web Service (like a “Service Contract”).
  • XML Stylesheet (.xsl): An XML document that describes how XML data should be visually rendered.
  • XML Stylesheet Transformation (.xslt): An XML document that defines the rules by which a file defined by one schema is transformed (mapped) to a file defined by another schema.

General Notes

  • One-Way (Two-Party) Exchange Pattern (Publish/Subscribe)
    • Messages are pushed by a publisher directly to oneor more subscribers
    • Messages can be transactional or batch
    • Messages are transport neutral (web service, FTP, email, etc.)
    • Messages are essentially “fired and forgotten”
    • Pattern is very scalable as publisher is insulated from diverse subscriber interfaces
  • Two-Way Exchange Pattern (Request/Response)
    • Requestor sends an XML message requesting specific information
    • Responder replies with an XML message containing the requested information
    • Typically implemented via web services
    • Response is typically synchronous (occurs at about the same time)
  • Federated Query
    • Single request message may yield numerous response messages
    • Not all respondents may have data for every request
    • Typically built using a “Message Broker” device, insulating requestor
    • Message Broker aggregates multiple responses to requestor


Note: Information is being shared under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 (CC BY-SA) license. Original content was created by NIEM course instructors Jenness, Owen, and Carlson.