DHS finishes architecture 1.0

Homeland Security Department officials have completed the first version of their enterprise architecture, and are using it to guide development and consolidation efforts.

"We have completed the first version of our target architecture and we are already beginning to implement the objectives of our [enterprise architecture] transitional strategy," DHS chief information officer Steve Cooper told lawmakers today.

The architecture has allowed officials to identify the projects inherited when 22 agencies merged to form the department. Officials can then look for areas of possible consolidation. For example, they have identified 300 applications for performing back-office functions, and now they can stop some of the redundant solutions, Cooper said. The principle, he said, was to simplify.

"We can begin to move from many — in this case 300 — down to some sizable number," Cooper said, testifying before the House Government Reform Committee's Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census Subcommittee.

Developing the initial architecture took officials less than four months, which Cooper called "unique in the federal government." More detailed versions will follow.

The current architecture lacks depth, Cooper told lawmakers, but officials have already begun work on a second to fill in the gaps and detail more systems and projects. Cooper called the approach "an inch deep and a mile wide," working down from DHS' overall mission. Officials have also identified about a dozen "quick hit" projects, which they have already begun to consolidate, such as e-training and network integration.

The department's architecture is aligned with the federal enterprise architecture, which provides guidance to all agencies for developing their architectures. The Office of Management and Budget, which spearheads the federal effort, will work closely with DHS, said Karen Evans, recently appointed as OMB's administrator for e-government and information technology.

"It is the intention of OMB through budget guidance to align their efforts with" federal enterprise architecture, Evans told lawmakers at the hearing. When questioned by Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.), subcommittee chair, whether there has been talk of holding up spending on projects if the architecture is not followed, Evans said she would have to get back to the panel with an answer.

"Primarily, it will be using the existing processes in place," she said, referring to the budget guidance. "Ensuring progress is made is happening through the quarterly score card reviews."

Ranking member Rep. William Lacy Clay, (D-Mo.) asked Cooper how the architecture might address cultural issues among agencies.

"The enterprise architecture is actually an objective way of taking the emotional element out," Cooper said. "The enterprise architecture, being devoid of emotion, actually can objectively document 'Here is where we are trying to automate or improve.' We don't eliminate or negate culture, but we allow all of us to have a common frame of reference."

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