GAO calls for FBI enterprise architecture

Information Technology: FBI Needs an Enterprise Architecture to Guide its Modernization Efforts

The FBI lacks an enterprise architecture to efficiently guide technology upgrades, General Accounting Office officials said today.

Without a blueprint for technology operations and investments, the agency risks creating duplicative and costly systems, they said in a report. The FBI has complex system modernization projects underway, and an architecture is necessary for managing these initiatives, they said.

"About two years into its ongoing systems modernization efforts, the FBI does not yet have an enterprise architecture," the GAO report said. "GAO's research has shown that attempting to modernize an [information technology] environment without a well-defined and enforceable enterprise architecture risks, among other things, building systems that do not effectively and efficiently support mission operations and performance."

Despite a commitment to create an architecture by this fall, the FBI still lacks the management framework and policies to develop one, the report said. Although the bureau recently designated a chief architect, the bureau does not have a plan or methodology for creating the architecture. The bureau is still in the first of five stages of GAO's framework for enterprise architecture management maturity, meaning it does not have plans for the architecture or plans to show the value of an architecture.

"The state of the bureau's architecture efforts is attributable to the level of management priority and commitment that the bureau has assigned to this effort," the GAO said.

The lack of an IT framework has been identified several times in the past few years: by the Justice Department in July 2001, the GAO in February 2002 and June 2002 and the Justice Department Inspector General in December 2002, according to the report.

GAO recommended that FBI Director Robert Mueller should designate the development and implementation of the enterprise architecture as a major priority. The bureau should establish a program office, adopt a methodology and establish metrics for measuring the progress of and compliance to the architecture, GAO officials said. They submitted a draft of its conclusions to the bureau for comment but did not receive a response before the final report was issued.

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