OMB sets e-gov architecture baseline

OMB sets e-gov architecture baseline

The Office of Management and Budget is creating a template for the leaders of its 24 highlighted e-government initiatives to follow.

OMB’s federal enterprise architecture program manager, Debra Stouffer, this month will issue standardized technology models for e-government leaders to use when developing architectures for their projects.

“The component architecture will provide guidance to the solution architects to what common technology is preferred,” said Stouffer, who is on a 90-day detail from the Housing and Urban Development Department, where she is the deputy CIO. “We are trying to narrow the road project leaders go down, so they invest in a common technology that is open, secure and scalable.”

The model OMB issues will include specific applications and hardware, but those decisions are not finalized yet, Stouffer said.

The component architecture will include information about databases, content management software, search engines and other technologies the projects need, said Norman Lorentz, OMB’s chief technology officer.

“We want to get down to two or three that would work and let the solution architects decide what is best,” he said.

Stouffer said the CIO Council will incorporate OMB’s suggestions into the next version of the enterprise architecture guide it publishes for federal agencies.

Solution architects

“We are building a knowledge base with all this,” Stouffer said. “Once the component architecture is finished and cleared, we will meet with the solution architects weekly to answer questions and make sure the guidance is interpreted correctly.”

OMB recognized early on the importance of putting together an e-gov architecture. Mark Forman, OMB’s associate director for IT and e-government, assigned Stouffer to his staff soon after the business cases for the 24 projects were finished.

“The enterprise architecture view we need has to be a modernization blueprint,” Forman said. “The Quicksilver task force found multiple agencies performing each of 30 major functions and business lines in the executive branch. The task force’s review clearly identified the current federal enterprise architecture as ‘the architecture that isn’t.’ ”

Stouffer’s contribution comes at a time when enterprise architecture is receiving a lot of attention from Congress and the General Accounting Office.

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the Government Reform Subcommittee on Technology and Procurement Policy, recently conducted a hearing that delved into federal architecture.

Davis said revamping the government’s stovepiped systems into an efficient network is crucial for e-government initiatives to succeed. Determining an underlying architecture should be the first step, he said.

What’s missing

GAO last month released a report—requested by Davis and others—outlining agency deficiencies in completing an enterprise architecture.

Randolph Hite, director for IT architecture and system issues, prepared the report and testified at Davis’ hearing along with David McClure, GAO’s director for IT management issues.

The report found that only five of the 116 agencies GAO surveyed satisfy the practices that it views necessary for effective enterprise architecture management.

Those practices include having a written policy for IT investment compliance and maintenance of the architecture, metrics for measuring the architecture’s benefits and an architectural approval committee.

GAO recommended OMB adopt its five-stage architecture maturity model to help agencies progress.

"The burden is on OMB as the federal government’s IT management leader to ensure that agencies meet their enterprise architecture obligations and that progress is made across the federal government," Hite said.

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