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Subject: Reflections on the NIST workshop.


I keep going back and reading this:

We've been struggling past two or three years to get the EAC and NIST on board with standards - (ironically for an organization called NIST?!?)
because - being brutally frank - of a lot of mostly politically driven push back in previous administration unseen
behind the EAC - and an unwillingness therefore to fund NIST to actually be a driving force in the adoption of standards.

EAC reluctance to fuel any sense that what was delivered on their watch has shortcomings - beyond their own rosy projection of reality (e.g. their recent video extolling how wonderful their testing and certification process is).

However I'm hoping this event will mark a turning point and that we can have serious leveraging of the investments that
EML and NIEM provides so that people are not reinventing the wheel again - and are able to rapidly refactor and improve
what is already deployed on the ground in proprietary systems.

NIST should be using this opportunity to leap-frog - taking advantage of what is already there and moving forward,
accelerating the building out - avoiding backtracking into a review and second guessing exercise.

Plus of course - contributing toward the open source toolkit with their considerable resources - to make better
test and conformance tools available - broad set of examples of EML XML and USA set of templates - would all
be very nice here too.  A jump start kit for developers who quite rightly ask "what is the best way of using all this?".

Unfortunately when I keep re-reading that workshop announcement - I get that strong sense of deja vu - the fact
that this is mostly about delaying the inevitable - slowly reviewing and second guessing and examination of alternatives - so
that another two or more years slip by here.  The results of that will be catastrophic and costly - because individual groups
will in the meantime create bespoke systems times 50x across the USA - as each State, County and jurisdiction continues
on their own - losing opportunities to leverage shared work.

We shall see what agenda and timeline NIST are prepared to commit to during the workshop.  

Is it too much to ask for bold vision and direction here?  

Instead of funding "turning lead into gold alchemy" blind alleys on refuting the principle of "software independence" and chasing mythical holy grails the EAC needs to see where the highest return on investment lays - simple honest standards for integration - not this stuff! - (http://www.eac.gov/program-areas/voting-systems/docs/nist-response.pdf/attachment_download/file)

As implementers we all know that once standards are in place the level of services and capabilities that we can deliver to our customers dramatically improves because of the reuse and time savings and quality control that are then all possible regardless of how people are entering their votes.  While all this is fragmented and untrackable it is impossible to know what is really happening in these fielded systems.  And that is just fine by the EAC it seems.

Thanks, DW

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