Burk outlines FEA goals

Four goals will dominate the Office of Management and Budget's architecture program office in the coming year, said Dick Burk, OMB's chief architect.

Among them is demonstrating the federal enterprise architecture's value to program managers. "We’re going to spend a fair amount of time there," Burk said today, speaking at the Input MarketView 2005 conference.

Overcoming enterprise architecture’s nerdy, back-office reputation has become increasingly important for architects. Recently, they have tried to emphasize information technology's role as a business process transformation tool, not an end unto itself.

Another high priority is looking for new business areas ripe for cross-agency cooperation, Burk said. "It doesn’t necessarily have to be consolidation, that doesn’t have to be the only way," he added, mentioning SmartBuy and enterprisewide licenses as other possibilities.

Fleet management, telecommunications, desktop management and infrastructure are included in the areas OMB officials will study for future cross-agency collaboration, Burk said.

OMB is also putting a high priority on evolving the five federal enterprise architecture models and measuring the value of enterprise architecture, he said.

Linking the performance reference model with the Performance Assessment Rating Tool will be one reference model change, Burk said.

In all, OMB architecture program office officials will be working on 20 initiatives in the coming year. Further details will be revealed in the federal enterprise architecture strategy, a document in the final stages of internal clearance, Burk said.

Congressional oversight of federal agencies doesn’t clash with enterprise architecture’s mission of rationalizing back-office support for programs with similar missions that happen to exist in different agencies and are funded from different appropriation accounts, he said.

"We don’t have to disturb the political process; agencies can be totally responsive to oversight committees," Burk said. Congressional appropriations committees tend to be closely tied to one or two major departments. Capitol Hill observers have often noted the difficulty lawmakers sometimes have in supporting cross-agency funding when that funding is seen as reducing the total money available to an agency.

"The process of developing and implementing programs is a political one," Burk said.

However, internal agency management need not mirror stovepiped appropriation accounts, Burk said. "We can tell a congressmen how much is being spent in the second congressional district by topic area...[but] we don’t necessarily have to manage internally that way," he added.

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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