OMB builds out enterprise architecture

A slew of federal enterprise architecture initiatives from the Office of Management and Budget should come to fruition in the coming weeks.

Earlier this year, OMB chief architect Dick Burk launched a plan to bring together 18 activities collectively led by nine organizations.

"Some of these initiatives are further along than others at this point," said Adam Schwartz, a detailee in OMB's Federal Enterprise Architecture Program Management Office. "It is a two-year effort." He spoke at a July ArchitecturePlus seminar in Washington, D.C.

Instituting an enterprise architecture is often an uphill effort, said John Sullivan, chief architect at the Environmental Protection Agency, who also spoke at the seminar. "There are people who have been doing strategic planni ng for years, and they say, 'Who are you? Go back and play in your [information technology] sandbox,' " he said.

Among the initiatives slated for delivery in September are two new federal enterprise architecture profiles, one for records management and one for geospatial information, Schwartz said. Profiles bring guidance and best practices into a basic methodology that agencies can use in their planning processes.

The records management profile will ensure that preservation becomes an integral part of day-to-day government business, said Reynolds Cahoon, the National Archives and Records Administration's chief information officer. A draft form of the profile is being circulated for agency comment.

Cahoon, who also spoke during the seminar, is the new co-chairman of the CIO Council's Architecture and Infrastructure Committee. He replaces John Gilligan, who stepped down when he retired as the Air Force's CIO earlier this year.

Two concept-of-operations documents should also be released soon, one for the lines of business and one for the federal enterprise architecture itself, Schwartz said. The former will define what a line of business is and help agencies plan their transitions to the cross-agency service centers that four of the lines-of-business task forces have proposed.

The enterprise architecture paper will help support agency integration of existing e-government initiatives and the lines of business.

In addition, the Architecture and Infrastructure Committee will release a white paper on federal enterprise architecture service components, Schwartz said.

And the Chief Architects Forum is preparing a federal enterprise architecture glossary, due later this month. It will define 175 common enterprise architecture terms.

Also, as part of an ongoing effort to link the performance reference model to the Program Assessment Rating Tool, the program management office will map the relationships among government performance measurement processes. That includes identifying the relationships between the President's Management Agenda and the Government Performance and Results Act, Schwartz added.

The program office also plans to release quarterly updates of federal enterprise architecture efforts, the first of which was posted on its Web site Aug. 9. The updates illustrate Burk's determination to improve communications between the program office and other stakeholders in enterprise architecture, said Dan Twomey, chairman of the Industry Advisory Council's Enterprise Architecture Shared Interest Group. Burk's style is to make decisions as collective as possible, Twomey added.

"If people feel some ownership, they're more likely to understand it and to participate positively, as supposed to when dictates are coming from on top," Twomey said.

In addition, the program office is posting case studies documenting successful agency architecture implementations. One already available on the office's Web site highlights advances made at the Food and Drug Administration. Architecture efforts there led to an IT consolidation that could save the agency $10 million in the next five years, the case study states.

More additions to come

The CIO Council's Architecture and Infrastructure Committee is completing a study of federal enterprise architecture collaboration tools, including Core.gov and the Federal Enterprise Architecture Management System.

The committee's white paper should be ready for the Office of Management and Budget's review by October or November, said Adam Schwartz, a detailee in the Federal Enterprise Architecture Program Management Office.

The study will compare existing collaboration tools to possible capabilities, said Earl Pedersen, vice chairman of the Industry Advisory Council's Enterprise Architecture Shared Interest Group. Federal officials requested that the group participate to gain a private-sector perspective.

— David Perera

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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