NU Online News Service, March 13, 1:13 p.m. – The HR-XML Consortium, Raleigh, N.C., has started a stock plan working group to develop XML standards for information about employee stock purchase plans and stock option programs.

The working group will try to define interfaces that employers can use to exchange stock plan data with plan administrators and brokers.

The working group hopes to deliver stock plan XML standards later this year, HR-XML says.

XML is a set of rules for translating data from one computer format to another.

HR-XML is a nonprofit group that creates XML standards for developing human resources data translation systems.

In theory, a successful XML stock plan standard could help employers share stock plan transaction information with brokers and third-party administrators.

Today, because there are no widely accepted electronic data standards, employers must buy expensive custom interfaces to communicate with stock plan administrators, or else use faxes, telephone calls and other manual comunications systems, HR-XML says.

The sponsors of the HR-XML stock plan working group include Fidelity Investments, Boston, and Watson Wyatt Worldwide, Washington.