Enterprise architecture put to test

Federal Enterprise Architecture Program Management Office

Several agencies this month will learn how well their ideas about enterprise architecture line up with those of the Office of Management and Budget.

The select group of agencies will have two to three weeks to test OMB's Enterprise Architecture Management System, which is a repository for information on agency systems. EAMS, part of OMB's effort to develop a Federal Enterprise Architecture, is intended to support cross-agency collaboration and reduce redundant spending by giving agencies a view of what systems already exist across government.

EAMS will organize the information according to the five reference models OMB is developing. The only one available now is the business reference model, which organizes information based on specific functions or "lines of business" in government — including service to citizens, support services, internal operations and infrastructure — and agencies are not certain how their individual enterprise architecture strategies and terminologies fit into the OMB model.

Because enterprise architecture is still fairly new to the federal government, most agencies use various definitions and methods, said George Brundage, chief enterprise architect at the Treasury Department. "We're all doing it differently," he said, speaking at a Digital Government Institute conference last week.

The primary purpose of the test is to check the basic functionality and usefulness of EAMS (see box).

In mid-November, following the test of EAMS, OMB officials plan to release the system to all agencies on a read-only basis, but agencies will be able to fully search the repository and generate reports as they go through the 2005 budget process, said Robert Haycock, program manager of the Federal Enterprise Architecture at OMB.

The main concern for many agency officials is how to transition from their current architecture models to the one developed by OMB. Many agencies have used the CIO Council's Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework (1999) and "A Practical Guide to Federal Enterprise Architecture" (2001). But the OMB Federal Enterprise Architecture, with its five reference models, does not provide a one-to-one match with the council's framework, officials said.

Now the council's Federal Architecture and Infrastructure Committee, which is undergoing changes to better reflect OMB's efforts, is revising its framework to work with the Federal Enterprise Architecture and the reference models, said Brundage, who was co-chairman of the committee's Federal Enterprise Architecture Working Group.

That's no easy solution, though, because the existing guides and frameworks are in active use throughout government, and many agencies are basing new policies on them, officials said.

Just this summer, the Air Force issued a memorandum outlining how the service will implement the Defense Department's command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) enterprise architecture framework.

This new policy begins with the Air Force's fiscal 2004 programs, but plans are already under way for fiscal 2005 and beyond, said Col. William Nelson, deputy director of C4ISR architecture and assessment.

The CIO Council's framework revision will address several issues beyond the need to work with the OMB Federal Enterprise Architecture, Brundage said. These include the need for more security guidance, special assistance for small agencies and new "products" or models based on those used at DOD and other organizations, Brundage said.

It doesn't help that OMB is still developing its other reference models, he said, including one for performance management.

OMB will release a second version of the business reference model — based on feedback from the agencies — in January, Haycock said. The service component, data and technical reference models should be released in at least a draft version by mid-November, but the performance reference model will take longer because measuring performance is much more complex, he said.

Until all of the reference models are available, agency officials simply will not know what they must adapt their enterprise architecture efforts to, Brundage said.

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Taking it for a spin

A proof-of-concept test to begin this month will give agencies a chance to check out the Office of Management and Budget's Enterprise Architecture Management System. OMB officials hope to learn if:

* The system is easy to use.

* The system contains the information agencies need to find potential opportunities for collaboration.

* The reports that OMB chose to generate are useful.

* The queries allowed on the system get agencies the information they need.

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