A global extensible markup language (XML) standards body has set up a committee to agree standards for e-government - but analysts have expressed doubts that it will deliver.
The Organisation for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (Oasis) - the body responsible for the electronic business XML (ebXML) document interchange format standard - said its e-Gov Technical Committee (TC) will help deliver open, international XML standards to meet the needs of e-government strategies.
John Borras, assistant director interoperability and infrastructure in the Office of the e-Envoy, has been appointed the first e-Gov TC chairman.
Borras said the committee would provide an excellent opportunity for governments from around the world to have a significant say in future XML standards.
The committee will identify and prepare plans for developing new standards, with recommendations formally submitted to appropriate Oasis working groups. Further technical committees may be formed if needed.
The committee will create best practice documents to push the adoption of Oasis open standards within governments.
Initially, special emphasis will be placed on the needs of countries in the European Union as they work to deliver aspects of the eEurope 2005 plans.
But Neil Macehiter, senior consultant at analyst Ovum, warned: "The challenge is to come up with real deployments. I question what [e-Gov TC] can deliver that is tangible in a timescale to bring real benefits."
He pointed to Oasis's own ebXML standard, originally built on electronic data interchange and still not finally ratified after years of development.
The committee is to look at ebXML along with web services, regarding them both as emerging technologies.
Macehiter said there was a need to grapple with the issue of government processes, but added: "The complexity is large and the scope is large. They will need to rein in the scope."
The first e-Gov TC meeting will be on Friday 13 December in Baltimore.
Committee members currently include representatives from the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation; the Ontario Government (Canada); the UK Ministry of Defence and the Office of the e-Envoy; and the US General Services Administration and Department of Navy.
The committee has also received developer support from BEA Systems, Commerce One, Entrust, Fujitsu, Microsoft, Novell, SAP, Sun Microsystems and WebMethods, among others.
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