NIEM Compliant and Not Standards Conforming – Absolutely Possible

There have been at least two situations that I have heard of recently that claim NIEM Compliance and External Standards Conformance in the same breath. While it can be done, neither actually did so. In one case, NIEM elements were mixed into non-NIEM schemas, but the NIEM attributes were removed. This is clearly not the correct approach (although at least NIEM concept re-use was achieved). In another approach, external standard concepts were “NEIMified” in a tool and mixed with NIEM elements in a combined IEPD without the use of adapters. This approach is NIEM conforming, but NOT standards conforming. This approach can claim to use input from existing standards but cannot claim to actually use those standards. Especially, this approach cannot claim to conform to them. I firmly believe in NEIM as a methodology and as an excellent model for concept re-use, but building a NIEM conforming schema is not the same as building a standard. A standard involves acceptance of the exchange schema by a formal standards body or by a wide body of users as a reusable exchange. When you build a NIEM complient IEPD you have 3 options:

1. Build it as a NIEM IEPD and ignore other standards.
2. Build an IEPD and use pieces of external standards but ignore validation or conformance to the the standards that are reused.
3. Build an IEPD with standards conforming components in adapters and add any other needed data using NIEM want list methods or current NIEM elements .

In all three cases, the result is not a standard until it is recognized as one, either de facto or through a recognized standards body. So, the IEPD is just the beginning. Before it becomes a standard, it must be recognized, either by a formal standards body, or through industry dominant re-use.

Bottom line: If you choose path 2, you should not advertise it as standards conforming. While you can claim NIEM Conformance, you cannot honestly claim conformance to the external standards used as input in any way whatsoever.

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