Clinger-Cohen fulfilled?

When former Secretary of Defense William Cohen was serving as a senator from Maine, he co-sponsored the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 to address systemic disconnects between government information technology procurement and business processes. Today, Cohen might be gratified by the sophistication of agencies' compliance with the act. An example is the marriage of the capital planning and investment control process — the financial rationale behind funding requests — with the enterprise architecture models that officials must incorporate into agency business cases contained in the Office of Management and Budget's Exhibit 300s.

The ability to automatically relate the strategy around investments with tactical and operational

decision-making is a huge advance.

For more than a year, visionary architects at some agencies we at Computas work with, including the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, have been developing prototype models for a single line of business that could be duplicated departmentwide.

An important goal is to be able to analyze a portfolio of investments across multiple Exhibit 300s in the early stages of building a new business case for funding. This will allow individuals to see one another's investments and how they relate. What's new in all of this is that capital planning actually becomes an integral part of the enterprise architecture.

This is a major milestone. The financial aspects of an enterprise architecture have never been captured well, but now the technology is available to pull together the architecture and investment strategy in a single solution. Investment decisions can be made on the basis of enterprise visibility — from an agency's strategic goals all the way down to a piece of software sitting on a person's computer — they need no longer be treated as stand-alone systems.

Among the challenges:

Understanding how to use the capabilities of the capital planning and enterprise architecture technology to the maximum extent, implementing agency-specific executive dashboards where stakeholders can see, at a high-level glance, the different strategic initiatives for an IT investment and the effect of alternatives.

Improving organizational processes to take advantage of opportunities identified through the capital planning and enterprise architecture analyses.

Among the successes:

Easy access to strategic investment plans to help agency officials align tactical and operational decision-making with strategic goals.

Enhanced enterprise architectures with financial and program management capabilities.

Visionary leaders are pushing the envelope by integrating agencies' enterprise architectures with capital planning, portfolio management and eventually network discovery technologies. They realized there is not a moment to lose.

Wright is president and chief executive officer of Computas, which makes capital planning and enterprise architecture tools.

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