OMB assigns tasks to CIO Council

Office of Management and Budget officials are providing funding for the CIO Council to complete a set of federal enterprise architecture-related tasks, including development of an architecture governance structure.

"We're looking at the governance issues surrounding updating the reference models or extending them," said Roy Mabry, co-chairman of the Enterprise Architecture Committee's Governance Subcommittee.

OMB officials disbursed about $350,000 from the agency's coffers near the end of the last fiscal year. The funding enables agency officials to give their architecture recommendations, said Karen Evans, OMB administrator for e-government and information technology.

But some federal data architects wonder whether the money will be spent on duplicating work OMB officials have already done. "You're going to have a group of people [who] are going to go out and try to reinvent the wheel," said Diane Reeves, former lead architect at OMB who now works at the Interior Department.

She was chairwoman of a working group that, in December 2003, completed a document describing a governance structure for the enterprise architecture's data reference model. The group submitted the Data Management Strategy to then-chief architect Bob Haycock shortly before Reeves ended her assignment at OMB, where she was temporarily detailed.

One of the group's major recommendations was to create a program office within OMB to oversee federal officials' efforts to implement the data reference model.

Some federal data architects, including Reeves, have asserted that OMB is the only entity with enough clout to ensure that agency officials have responsibility for data standards that span multiple agencies.

"I don't think it's going to be easier to implement [the data reference model] without sponsorship and leadership of some organization like OMB," said Craig Tanner, a private-sector enterprise architecture consultant who was a member of the working group.

But a data model program office "is not going to happen here in OMB," Evans said. "I don't disagree that there's a lot of thoughts about how it should work; that's why we're asking the [the architecture committee] to look at it."

OMB officials sent agency chief information officers presentation slides stating that a revised Data Management Strategy and the three additional volumes of the data reference model will be ready in 2005 in time for agencies' fiscal 2007 budget submissions, said Ken Sall, a government IT consultant.

Having architecture committee members investigate governance "is not OMB throwing its hands up and saying, 'We relinquish responsibility,' " said Kim Nelson, co-chairwoman of the committee and CIO at the Environmental Protection Agency.

Both Nelson and John Gilligan, Air Force CIO and the other co-chairman of the committee, have characterized the committee's governance task as establishing a process for receiving and evaluating agency comments for future revisions of the enterprise architecture.

The E-Government Act of 2002 requires solicitation of agency review, Evans said. But asked if committee members will address data reference model governance, she said, "I'm not going to suppose what the [committee's] recommendations may be until they give them to me."

Mabry said his governance team might examine the strategy issued by the data reference model working group. "I can't say with any assurance what the outcome will be until we have had a chance to examine it," he said.

CIO Council gets 7 tasks

As co-chairwoman of the CIO Council's Enterprise Architecture Committee, Kim Nelson will help lead the development of a governance structure for the federal enterprise architecture. The effort is being funded by the Office of Management and Budget. The other architecture-related tasks the committee is undertaking are:

* Writing a white paper on service components.

* Redesigning as a potential registry for reusable architecture software.

* Developing a unifying framework for enterprise transformation so agency data architects can communicate clearly with their counterparts.

* Examining the integration of the federal enterprise architecture with state and local government architectures.

* Identifying and validating emerging technologies.

* Setting up an architects' forum.

Final products will be delivered to OMB officials throughout fiscal 2005, Nelson said.

— David Perera

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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