The U.S. General Accounting Office, Congress’s investigative arm, is warning that government information technology system developers should be wary of pitfalls in implementing extensible markup language.

But the GAO’s report to the Senate’s government affairs committee on XML adoption in electronic government also recommends that the government develop a strategy for government-wide adoption of XML patterned after or adapted from the government’s electronic data interchange coordination.

The report concludes that top administration management and technology offices have not yet formulated a strategy for XML adoption to guide agency implementation. "Without agreement on a government-wide implementation strategy agencies risk building and buying systems that will not work with each other in the future," the 73-page report notes.

The GAO also recommends that the strategy should use a pilot XML registry effort of the federal CIO Council as an operational government-wide resource. "This plan should include identifying time frames and resources needed to implement and maintain an operational registry linked to agency repositories of standard data structures," the report says.

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