OMB considers A-130 rewrite

Office of Management and Budget officials are examining whether Circular A-130, which implements the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996, needs updating. Booz Allen Hamilton officials are also looking at the issue. The company's review comes months after a CIO Council-sponsored working group scrutinized the way A-130 deals with enterprise architecture.

The five reference models of the federal enterprise architecture "are not currently built into or sufficiently explained in terms of the A-130," said Mike Tiemann, enterprise architecture practice manager at AT&T Government Solutions. Tiemann served as an industry adviser on the council's working group.

Critics and proponents disagree about whether updating the document that governs how agency officials invest in information technology by adding the architecture's reference models would be a necessary step or a waste of time.

A former government official, who requested anonymity because of the issue's sensitivity, questioned whether the working group has gone far enough and said the circular needs a lot of work.

The current circular does not force agency officials to "connect the dots with underlying mission performance and the requirements of Clinger-Cohen," the former official said, adding that creating a stronger link between enterprise architecture and Circular A-130 would not achieve the intended purpose of encouraging wise IT investments.

"The phrase 'enterprise architecture' is never used in Clinger-Cohen, and that's deliberate," the former official said.

Enterprise architecture efforts promise future savings and efficiencies, but agency officials "are still not re-engineering their systems before they automate," the former official said. Reference models "distract everybody's attention from what's really going on, and that's business as usual."

The government needs greater emphasis on operational architecture for systems acquisition and less of the all-or-nothing approach that the federal enterprise architecture implies, the former official added.

"If you're really going to rewrite, just don't tinker with the edges," he said.

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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