Architecture forms e-gov foundation

The government's continuing foray into enterprise architecture is one of the most important endeavors being pursued to guarantee that e-government will be effective, a panel of experts said Dec. 19

Aligning the information technology infrastructure not only within agencies but across government remains a challenge, but one that is progressing every day, according to panelists at an AFCEA International breakfast Dec. 19.

The panel consisted of John Gilligan, chief information officer for the Air Force; Bob Haycock, manager of the Federal Enterprise Architecture Program Office for the Office of Management and Budget; Laura Callahan, deputy CIO at the Labor Department; and Michael Fitzgerald, project manager for the e-Training Initiative, for which the Office of Personnel Managementis is the managing partner.

Gilligan said that individual commanders have been given the task of taking the lead in the development of an integrated architecture for each of their own commands. The Enterprise Architecture Integration Council (EAIC), which serves under the federal CIO Council, oversees each commander's architecture efforts.

Haycock mentioned that EAIC recently formed three subcommittees to focus on specific areas of enterprise architecture and help expedite the process:

* The Enterprise Architecture Governance Subcommittee will provide policy guidance, as well as advice and assistance in the definition, design and deployment of enterprise architecture discipline and practice throughout the federal government.

* The Components Subcommittee is set up to foster the identification, maturation and use of component-based architectures and architectural components in the federal government. Its objectives are to promote the basic principles of interoperability, reusability and portability of infrastructure components by federal agencies and related partners as they modernize their business processes through data sharing, e-government automation and improved information systems.

* The Emerging Technologies Subcommittee will identify technologies with the potential to improve the value and quality of the federal enterprise architecture. It will examine crosscutting components and develop recommendations for their use in the federal government.

"The architecture we develop has to be relevant and it has to be relevant immediately," Gilligan said. "In the past, we have developed stuff and it has become 'shelfware.' "

Within the Defense Department, "interoperability is extremely important, and we in the Air Force now focus on the architecture as an essential part of Air Force operations," he continued. "We have to define the security and other attributes of the architecture to allow us to have a dialog between the services and our allies."

At an AFCEA breakfast meeting last month, Col. William Nelson, deputy director of command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance architecture and assessment, said, "We have the framework for enterprise architectures, but all the pieces are not proceeding at the same pace."

"Architectures are part of the departmental decision-making process," Nelson said, adding that the Air Force is working to "prioritize workloads based on where the department needs to go."

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