>Information Sharing Standards and Enterprise Architecture

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In response to the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) of 2004 called for an Information Sharing Environment (ISE), “an approach that facilitates the sharing of terrorism information” and that requires the President to designate a Program Manager for the ISE and to establish an Information Sharing Council to advise the President and the Program Manager.

The Common Terrorism Information Sharing Standards (CTISS) Program Manual is a construct for ISE. It defines both functional standards and technical standards.

  • Functional standards—According to the CTISS Program Manual, these are “detailed mission descriptions, data and metadata on focused areas that use ISE business processes and information flows to share information.” From an enterprise architecture perspective, I believe this would correspond to the business and information perspectives of the architecture as well as be extended probably to the performance perspective. In other words, functional standards correlate to the three business perspectives of the Federal Enterprise Architecture. These are the standards that define our requirements, in other words, how we measure performance (for example, Balanced Scorecard), how we engineer business processes (for example, Lean Six Sigma), and how we describe information sharing requirements (for example, NIEM or U-CORE, and Information Exchange Package Descriptions).
  • Technical Standards—“methods and techniques to implement information sharing capability…[for] acquiring, accessing, producing, retaining, protecting, and sharing.” From an enterprise architecture perspective, I believe this would correspond to the services, technology, and security perspectives of the architecture. These correlate to the three technical perspectives of the architecture. The technical standards include how systems will interoperate or share information (for example, J2EE, .NET), what technology standards will be employed (for example, XML, SOAP, UDDI) and how security will be assured (for example, various from NIST/FIPS, ISO, IEEE, and so on).

What I like about the CTISS is that it attempts to define a comprehensive framework for the ISE from the highest-level being the domains of information (such as intelligence, law enforcement, homeland security, foreign affairs, and defense) and drills down to the security domains (SBU, Secret, and US-SCI), reference models, (FEA, DoDAF, IC EA…), standard types (metadata, data, exchange, and service), standards bodies (NIEM, W3C, OASIS…), and then the standards themselves.

As an initial impression, I think next steps are to articulate how I share information with you or you share with me. Currently, we are still defining techniques for future sharing of data, like developing metadata, creating a data dictionary and schema, defining exchange standards, and service standards to discover data through registries. It like responding to someone who asks, how do I get to your house, by saying, we need to pave roads, design and manufacture cars or buses, install traffic signs and lights, and so on. That’s all infrastructure that needs to be built. That still doesn’t tell me how I get to your house. While we are making huge progress with information sharing, we’re still at the early stages of figuring out what the infrastructure elements are to share. But it seems to be a running start!

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