OMB's daring plan

The Office of Management and Budget has made one of its boldest management proposals yet with a strategy that promotes the use of what's known as component-based architecture.

This concept, which certainly looks good on paper, entails developing systems in modules that can be reused in other systems, reducing the overall cost and effort required to build applications. OMB believes such an approach could facilitate the federal government's development and fielding of e-government applications.

For example, instead of a dozen agencies developing technology for accepting electronic payments, why not have one agency take the lead on the e-payment module and share it with the rest?

The concept fits well with OMB's vision of managing information technology with a governmentwide perspective, capitalizing on reduced costs and better cross-agency collaboration.

Yet it's also a daring venture. The idea of component-based architecture, or software reuse, has been around for years, tantalizing program managers with its promises. But IT experts say that it's a bear to carry out, even within a given program or organization. To take it governmentwide is exponentially more difficult.

The concept is technically feasible, but culturally mind-boggling. How will agencies agree on the necessary features and functionality of individual components and the interfaces required to make them portable from one agency to the next? To negotiate these fine points — when agencies have such disparate missions, management strategies and IT competencies — is a tall order.

That's not to say the effort is not admirable or that OMB shouldn't make a go of it. It takes bold moves to bring about big change, and agencies will, no doubt, learn something from the effort.

But OMB should view its strategy with a jaundiced eye. The component-based architecture could prove unviable, with agencies unwilling or unable to find enough common ground to make it worthwhile. If that happens, OMB should quickly recast its effort to find the formula that may make the effort a success, however the Bush administration defines that. It also means officials should be willing, if necessary, to call it quits.

The 2015 Federal 100

Meet 100 women and men who are doing great things in federal IT.

Featured

  • Shutterstock image (by venimo): e-learning concept image, digital content and online webinar icons.

    Can MOOCs make the grade for federal training?

    Massive open online courses can offer specialized IT instruction on a flexible schedule and on the cheap. That may not always mesh with government's preference for structure and certification, however.

  • Shutterstock image (by edel): graduation cap and diploma.

    Cybersecurity: 6 schools with the right stuff

    The federal government craves more cybersecurity professionals. These six schools are helping meet that demand.

  • Rick Holgate

    Holgate to depart ATF

    Former ACT president will take a job with Gartner, follow his spouse to Vienna, Austria.

  • Are VA techies slacking off on Yammer?

    A new IG report cites security and productivity concerns associated with employees' use of the popular online collaboration tool.

  • Shutterstock image: digital fingerprint, cyber crime.

    Exclusive: The OPM breach details you haven't seen

    An official timeline of the Office of Personnel Management breach obtained by FCW pinpoints the hackers’ calibrated extraction of data, and the government's step-by-step response.

  • Stephen Warren

    Deputy CIO Warren exits VA

    The onetime acting CIO at Veterans Affairs will be taking over CIO duties at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

  • Shutterstock image: monitoring factors of healthcare.

    DOD awards massive health records contract

    Leidos, Accenture and Cerner pull off an unexpected win of the multi-billion-dollar Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization contract, beating out the presumptive health-records leader.

  • Sweating the OPM data breach -- Illustration by Dragutin Cvijanovic

    Sweating the stolen data

    Millions of background-check records were compromised, OPM now says. Here's the jaw-dropping range of personal data that was exposed.

  • FCW magazine

    Let's talk about Alliant 2

    The General Services Administration is going to great lengths to gather feedback on its IT services GWAC. Will it make for a better acquisition vehicle?

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above