Enterprise architecture expanding

Federal Enterprise Architecture Program Management Office

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The Office of Management and Budget is working with federal agencies to try new tactics to expand and spread the concept of enterprise architecture.

Information technology is the area most agencies have focused on when developing enterprise architectures, which describe the existing environment, the infrastructure that an organization needs or wants to be in place and the plans to make that transition.

But IT is not the only area it could be used, Debra Stouffer, chief technology officer at the Environmental Protection Agency, said Sept. 12 at an enterprise architecture conference in Washington, D.C.

The EPA is doing a pilot project to test the applicability of the enterprise architecture approach in workforce management.

The pilot project focuses on emergency response functions at the EPA, but the idea of using enterprise architecture to track and manage what skills are available within an agency, which people have those skills, and where those people are located can be applied to all infrastructure areas, Stouffer said.

Norman Lorentz, chief technology officer at OMB, also stressed that enterprise architecture must not get stuck in the IT arena, even though that is where the Federal Enterprise Architecture is starting out.

The first area to be addressed within the federal architecture includes the lines of business and how agencies' IT systems support the business of government. This is outlined in the first version of the business reference model, which OMB issued in July. Agencies need to start thinking about enterprise architecture in terms of resource management, no matter the resource, he said.

In the IT area, OMB is beginning to raise awareness of the enterprise architecture concept at the state and local level.

Because large parts of the state and local infrastructure are paid for through federal grants, OMB plans to use that leverage to back up the enterprise architecture efforts of the state and local chief information officers, Mark Forman, OMB's associate director of IT and e-government, said at the conference.

OMB, the federal CIO Council and the National Association for State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) have been working together for some time on enterprise architecture efforts. But business leaders within the agencies must also have an awareness of the advantages of using an enterprise architecture.

So OMB officials are speaking with officials from federal agencies that run the grant programs, including the Office of Justice Programs, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services. In those discussions, OMB officials are trying to persuade the agencies to include the enterprise architecture ideas that OMB and NASCIO are trying to implement as part of the grant programs' requirements and oversight, Forman said.

"The next step is getting the grant programs to fully embrace the architecture agreements we set up with states," he said.

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