NIEM prepares for new version; DOD onboarding

The National Information Exchange Model Program plans to release the third version of the model in beta next month, Executive Director Donna Roy said in an interview with FedScoop.

In addition to NIEM, Donna is executive director of the Department of Homeland Security Information Sharing Environment Office.

Roy said the update – the first in about four years – would provide an updated vocabulary for governmentwide communities, including the information-sharing environment. She said the new version will be built through community engagement as information-sharing stakeholders define the content included in NIEM.

For those not familiar, NIEM is an XML-based information exchange framework that represents a collaborative partnership of agencies and organizations across all levels of government (federal, state, tribal, local and international) and with private industry.


The purpose of this partnership is to effectively and efficiently share critical information at key decision points throughout the whole of government.

Perhaps even bigger than the new version, though, is the addition of the Defense Department to the community. Roy said DOD announced its intention to join the community a few months back and is now going through the onboarding process.

Roy said DOD is already using NIEM within maritime and anticipates DOD to focus next on military operations and then build up from there.

“We expect them to be active participants in the stewardship of NIEM, in areas such as healthcare, cybersecurity and all the others areas that they work,” Roy said. “We expect they’ll start slow and go from there, but with the sheer size of the department we know there will be many opportunities.”

NIEM is built with the creation of communities of interest that share a common concern, set of problems or interest in a topic.


Within the context of NIEM, COIs come together based on a common need to exchange information to advance their missions and can be made up of multiple domains or a subset of a single domain.

For example, a multifaceted issue, such as human trafficking, involves law enforcement organizations to handle investigations, and immigration and social service organizations to provide victim assistance.

The anti-human trafficking community includes stakeholders from the justice, human services, and immigration domains. Conversely, a broadly scoped domain such as the maritime domain could contain multiple COIs such as coastal defense, marine protection and fisheries.

Bringing in DOD will be a huge success for NIEM and provide a large number of new opportunities.

Roy said her office succeeds by connecting different organizations that can benefit from collaboration on information-sharing efforts. She said it works both ways – some organizations reach out to NIEM with a specific project while others are approached by her office  to see if a match can be made.


For instance, NIEM is being leveraged to find ways to share information with state and local organizations on prescription drug monitoring because of the rising percentage of prescription drug abuse.

By creating standards for that type of information, the diverse organizations involved can get a better handle on the issue and create solutions to help stop it.

“I love my job, because we’re really able to help people by using data to get to the core of the issue,” Roy said. “The beautiful thing is that when you work on projects, there is usually another community next door working on something similar. There are so many lines that can be drawn, it’s amazing to watch.”

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