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OMB’s Burk will leave legacy of change

Richard Burk might be best known for his sharp style of dress and eloquent and impassioned speeches, but few people outside the enterprise architecture community realize what his true influence on agencies has been.

Burk, who announced his retirement Aug. 15 after more than 35 years in government, will rank with Mark Forman, Steve Kelman and others in the technology and procurement fields who have changed government.

From his pulpit as chief architect at the Office of Management and Budget, Burk worked diligently and enthusiastically to help agencies achieve their missions by adopting enterprise architecture.

Under his guidance, OMB pushed agencies to evolve their enterprise architectures from what many considered software for technology geeks to a methodology for planning, investing and implementing business systems. The impact on budgets and mission-critical systems becomes clearer each year.

Burk often drew on his 29 years of experience at the Housing and Urban Development Department to present real-life examples of how enterprise architecture can help agencies achieve mission goals.

Burk’s vision, as he described it, was to bring enterprise architecture out of the “information technology ghetto” and into mission-critical areas. He started agencies down that path with a number of initiatives, including the Federal Transition Framework and last year’s mandate that agencies create segment architectures, which focus on a particular business line and require the business owner’s approval.

Burk said he is leaving government because he is ready for a change. He plans to land somewhere in industry and continue working with agencies on enterprise architecture.

OMB could have a hard time replacing him for numerous reasons, including the fact that the chief architect has no staff or funding, but a lot of responsibility and expectations.

Although agencies’ use of enterprise architecture is far from perfect or complete, Burk has set the slow-moving government on a steady course.


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