GAO defines enterprise architecture benchmarks

Responding to agency requests, the General Accounting Office has updated its guide on enterprise architectures with expanded metrics to measure how well an agency succeeds in implementation.

The update, "Information Technology: A Framework for Assessing and Improving Enterprise Architecture Management," provides benchmarking tools for agencies to plan and measure their efforts in developing enterprise architectures. It also provides guidelines for the Office of Management and Budget to evaluate agency efforts.

The report was updated using feedback from the release of the first version, published February 2002 and entitled, “Information Technology: Enterprise Architecture Use Across the Federal Government Can Be Improved.”

That document focused on evaluating how well agencies had implemented their enterprise architectures. It also provided some guidelines on implementing the 1999 Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework, developed by the Chief Information Officers Council, to set a common language for agencies to use in coordinating business processes.

This update expands the performance measurements identified in the first report. It defines attributes critical for success and offers a matrix to gauge how mature an agency’s architecture is.

The GAO solicited feedback from 116 federal departments and agencies. Suggested improvements include adding more information on security, on maintenance of enterprise architectures, on linking guidance to other government mandates and on measuring both progress and return on investment.

The report defines an enterprise as any activity that an agency executes. The architecture characterizes how that activity is structured. OMB’s office of Federal Enterprise Architecture Program Management breaks an enterprise architecture into five categories:

  • Business reference model: Describes the activity in terms of its business operations


  • Performance reference model: Describes the means to measure the performance of the activity


  • Data and information reference model: Describes the data needed to support the activity



  • Service component reference model: Identifies the support services needed to complete the activity


  • Technical reference model: Describes the standards for the technology needed by the activity


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