Tiemann: Maturity or bust

Information Technology: Leadership Remains Key to Agencies Making Progress on Enterpris Architecture Efforts

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Arecent survey by the General Accounting Office concluded that the federal enterprise architecture has not matured as many expected. The question now is: Does this signal a boom or a bust for the market for enterprise architecture services and the professions of enterprise architects?

Some pundits and federal careerists think enterprise architecture will go the way of previous failed management practice fads because it is not yet taking hold. I think they're wrong.

Those of us who have significant professional investment in enterprise architectures believe that this work will endure because it's the right way to plan to effectively and efficiently use information technology. E-government needs architectures to succeed.

Many naysayers don't want to be constricted by an enterprise architecture. They want free rein in what IT they acquire and how they implement it. They are managers who want to rapidly deploy IT solutions because, among other things, they can take credit. Yet the results too often don't meet schedules or their budget.

Enterprise architectures, in conjunction with capital planning, can prevent these dire results.

The "don't-constrict-me, get-it-done-quick" crowd has issues with an ordered, organized and engineering analysis quality architecture. That is because it is contrary to their agendas and could hold them accountable to higher standards. They'd be forced to answer questions such as: Will this system continue to meet mission needs several years after it is built?

Others attack enterprise architectures a bit differently. They say we are stuck in perpetual analysis paralysis. Sounds scary, doesn't it? But hey, I would challenge any of these folks to fly in an airplane or work in a high-rise building that has not been planned and designed on paper first. They wouldn't, of course.

The bottom line is that technologists throwing IT at problems waste enormous amounts of taxpayers' dollars and government resources. How do I know this? Just ask GAO officials or any agency inspector general. They have libraries full of reports with

facts and figures documenting this waste. The federal enterprise architecture is a long-term approach aimed at addressing this issue, and progress will be incremental.

Despite the GAO report, I must say that during the past year as a contractor, I have spent a lot of time visiting many agencies, and I can attest to the progress that is being made with architectures. Every agency I visited at least had plans to start an enterprise architecture, even though most folks had little understanding of how they would get the necessary resources or funding. IT professionals and business leaders increasingly call for enterprise architectures to be developed and used to steer enterprise capital IT investments.

With the Office of Management and Budget and the CIO Council — I hope — ready to reinforce the importance of enterprise architectures, I see more work than there may be qualified people to do it.

The GAO report should be reviewed in detail, and you will see the progress that has been made and

the opportunities it presents across the federal

government.

Tiemann is a principal in AT&T Government Solutions' enterprise architecture practice. He formerly served as an information architect at the Energy Department and was co-chairman of the CIO Council's Federal Architecture and Infrastructure Committee's Federal Enterprise Architecture Working Group.

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