Editorial: Sexing up EA

nterprise architectures have come a long way in a relatively short period of time. Most agencies not only have one but also use it to help them make decisions, in most cases.

There is no better illustration of that progress than when Tom Ridge was named secretary of the Homeland Security Department and said that establishing an enterprise architecture was a top priority.

Those responsible for developing and implementing such architectures generally acknowledge that most senior agency officials and frontline workers understand the importance of enterprise architectures. The problem, they argue, is educating those in between.

The difficulty with enterprise architectures is that they simply do not have much meaning for those outside information technology and

chief information officer offices. Even some people within IT shops regard architectures as an exercise that they do not fully understand or


The lack of understanding is, at least in part, the result of enterprise architectures' complexity. As with so many concepts in the IT world, enterprise architecture has its own culture and language. Just a quick pop quiz: How many of us really know what a reference model is? And how many could explain the relationship between the federal enterprise architecture and individual agency enterprise architectures?

As part of this week's feature, we answered some frequently asked

questions under the assumption that some of you, even within the IT community, do not fully understand all of the elements of enterprise


The goal of an architecture is a good one: to move beyond stand-alone systems to those that use resources and data more efficiently. But getting there seems overly complex. And the language of enterprise architecture is a big hurdle to overcome if the goal is to become a reality for those who are not CIOs and IT officials.

Office of Management and Budget officials are in the process of hiring a new enterprise architect. We hope this person, working with members of the CIO Council, can come up with a creative way to broaden the understanding of this important concept.

No small task, but a very important one.


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