Gartner: Agencies laying groundwork for taxonomy adoption

Government agencies will spend 2004 preparing to implement taxonomy technologies for organizing enterprise information, a Gartner Inc. analyst said today.

What is not clear is whether agencies will meet a year-end deadline for establishing a taxonomy system.

Taxonomies are ways of classifying and organizing data so it is easier to search and access. Section 207 of the 2002 E-Government Act requires agencies to develop an overall taxonomy for public Web sites by the end of 2004.

Rita Knox, research director and vice president at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner, said agencies can accomplish their goals, but coming up with taxonomies for organizing information is a challenging task.

"Laying the foundation is important, because no one wants to rip things out in five years," Knox said. "Different spaces of the government can evolve over time, but what is important is that they have the right experts in place."

Knox said government agencies should have process experts and domain experts, such as library scientists, working on their taxonomy systems if they want them to be effective. If agencies rely solely on automatic category creation tools, their taxonomy projects are likely to fail, she said.

Knox spoke to IT managers and systems integrators about taxonomies at a seminar in Bethesda, Md., sponsored by Convera Corp.

Sean Alger, vice president and general manager of Convera, said intelligence and law enforcement agencies are furthest along in building taxonomies to organize data.

"You usually see a 12- to 18-month lag in government agencies adopting new technologies, but we don't see that with taxonomies," Alger said.

Vienna, Va.-based Convera sells search and categorization solutions. Last month the company announced its Taxonomy Workbench, which it says can help agencies classify information in compliance with the E-Government Act.

Alger said systems integrators play an important role in implementing Convera's solutions.

"Systems integrators need to be involved with the actual implementation. ? They also need to help agencies manage taxonomies over time," Alger said.

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