The Need for Standards and the Data Standards United Partnership


Data Standards exist to help save time and money when integrating systems with other vendors or even internally. The non-profit organizations that build those standards work with their members, sometimes worldwide, to build use cases, templates, and documentation to meet their industry’s needs.

Standards organizations such as the HR Open Consortium allow their members and the industry to more easily integrate with their trading partners and customers. Although HR Open Standards focuses on the HR Industry, some organizations build standards for K-12 education (A4L), post-secondary education (PESC), and health professions education (MedBiquitious), while others focus on learning or government requirements. It’s a wide scope with many standards, so it’s difficult to know where to go for answers, or which standard to use for a specific use case.

Imagine the strength of an alliance between data standards organizations. Data Standards United (DSU) is a collaborative of standards bodies and other supporters of standards in the education, training, and employment sectors. Through this new collaborative, these organizations can co-lead or expand project participation, reducing the chance of duplicate standards, and provide a safe place for creative ideas. We are also looking at other opportunities for collaboration – possibly a single place to find use cases, mapping, or downloads – some in coordination with the T3Network. We welcome all ideas for collaboration!

Here’s an example of the resource benefits: a few months ago, one of the organizations had a question about any standards that could be used for certifying a person’s credentials. They reached out to the DSU community and received feedback for several options. Rather than building something new, they had the option to use an existing standard that fit their needs.

Another benefit of DSU is opening up projects to a larger group (greater shared knowledge) resulting in a more complete specification. PESC has started a project to develop a JSON transcript and opened it up to DSU participation.

Our goals at DSU are to:

  • To promote collaboration, transparency, harmonization, data linkages, and communications on the usage of openly developed and freely accessible interoperability standards.
  • To determine levels of compatibility between data standards; identify opportunities for further alignment, convergence, and partnerships; and develop a better understanding of each stakeholder’s role across education, employment, and training sectors.
  • To inventory, share, and map/crosswalk data standards, models, taxonomies, vocabularies, and schemas.
  • To support various projects brought to the community and produce agreed-upon communications, documentation, outputs, tools, and artifacts for use and adoption.

By accomplishing these objectives, Data Standards United is able to provide support for partners, align work, keep open communication, leverage knowledge, and provide cross-standard partnerships.

Visit or contact if you’d like to learn more about being a part of this organization. 

About HR Open Standards

The HR Open Standards Consortium is the only independent, non-profit, volunteer-led organization dedicated to the development and promotion of a standard suite of HR-XML and HR-JSON specifications that simplify Human Resources-related data exchanges. Learn more and download the HR-XML and HR-JSON data exchange standards from the HR Open Standards website. 

About the Access 4 Learning Community

The Access 4 Learning (A4L) Community, previously the SIF Association, is a unique, non-profit collaboration composed of schools, districts, local authorities, states, US and International Ministries of Education, software vendors, and consultants who collectively address all aspects of learning information management and access to support learning.  The Access 4 Learning Community has united these education technology end-users and providers in an unprecedented effort to give teachers more time to do what they do best: teach. For further information, visit 

About MedBiquitous

MedBiquitous establishes a common language, understood by both people and machines, that enables data and resource-sharing across organizations in health professions education and credentialing. This common language creates an infrastructure that supports education administration, quality improvement, research, and lifelong learning. For further information, visit

About Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council

PESC - Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council is an open standards-development and open standards-setting body (governed by a voluntary, consensus-based model), independently funded by annual membership dues, meetings, and sponsorships, enabling PESC to support, publish and maintain PESC Approved Standards and technical information free and without charge. For further information, visit