OMB eyes architecture practices

Federal Enterprise Architecture Program Management Office

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Two years into the development of the federal enterprise architecture, Office of Management and Budget officials are examining how well agencies use it to drive investments.

"We're starting to get into: What are enterprise architecture best practices? " said Bob Haycock, OMB chief architect. "How is the government doing and using [the architecture] to manage investments?"

During the next year or so, Haycock expects his office to determine OMB's goals for the federal enterprise architecture at the agency level. This scrutiny would be in conjunction with work under way at the General Accounting Office, he said.

Haycock spoke this morning at an Enterprise Architecture Forum sponsored by Compuware Corp. of McLean, Va.

The fiscal 2005 budget process showed how closely agencies follow the architecture for their information technology investments, he said. For example, agencies did a good job using the performance reference model, one of five models defined in the architecture, to define performance metrics, Haycock said. He added that the process revealed that many agencies share metrics, signaling areas for potential collaboration -- a driving force behind the architecture.

The budget cycle also allowed OMB officials to identify some common lines of business that cut across agencies: public health information systems, criminal investigation, human resources systems and financial management applications. Using the information gathered through agency business cases, OMB officials can find more opportunities for collaboration, Haycock said.

"We have a lot more information than we had last year in fiscal 2004," he said. "We'll continue to build on that as we define the information we're asking for in the Exhibit 300s."

The four initiatives outlined in the lines of business are gaining ground this fiscal year, Haycock said, and OMB officials will be aggressively developing a common architecture for agencies to follow. For example, they will look for common functions of a financial management solution that could be shared across agencies. In fiscal 2005, officials will be looking for additional lines of business to build upon.

"Some people call it the next round of e-government initiatives; I call it the institutionalizing of the process," Haycock said. "This is how we're moving down the road."

In the past few months, OMB officials have been developing what Haycock called a common process view, to help agencies see where they share similar processes. Before they can have a detailed description of links for collaboration, officials need a broader view of shared processes, he said. This is a three-round process in which agencies progressively identify and build upon common definitions.

OMB officials have also been working with the federal CIO Council to revise the architecture's five reference models -- performance, business, service component, technical and data reference -- in time for work on the fiscal 2006 budget. Officials will add depth to the models, Haycock said, and make slight changes based on the previous budget process.

The revised models are expected to be released in mid-March, he said. The final reference model to be released, the data reference model, is currently under OMB review and will be in agency hands for review and comment during the next 30 to 45 days, Haycock said.

In addition, he said officials would discuss the possibility of identifying specific products as part of the service component reference model. By defining certain products that fit into the model's categories, officials can highlight potential areas for enterprise licensing for cross-agency use, Haycock said.

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