GAO seeks better architectures

GAO's Framework for Assessing and Improving Enterprise Architecture Management

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Agencies with less mature enterprise architectures often lack formal methodologies and written policies for building one, a General Accounting Office official said recently.

Most agencies' architectures evaluated on the latest version of the GAO's Enterprise Architecture Management Maturity Framework rated at stage one or stage two on the five-stage scale. Officials can see where agency officials need to focus their attention by examining what elements the architectures satisfied on the survey, said GAO's Michael Holland.

"We can start to see where we might want to address our efforts so we can raise the maturity as a whole," Holland said, speaking May 7 at the Enterprise Architecture Conference in Washington, DC.

Of 96 agencies and departments evaluated on Version 1.1 of the GAO framework, 76 were rated to be at stage one of maturity and 10 were at stage two. Only one, the Executive Office of the President, reached the final stage. The architectures were surveyed about a year ago, following a 2001 survey using the Version 1.0 of the framework.

When trying to reach the second stage, 41 percent of the agencies satisfied the requirement that the architecture is developed using a methodology and automated tool, officials said. Also, 58 percent had a program office in place that was responsible for development and maintenance of the architecture. Agencies lacking these criteria were unable to pass to the next stage.

Similarly, only 33 percent of agencies had a written and approved organization policy for architecture development, a requirement to advance to stage three. Thirty-four percent were able to measure and report the progress of architecture plans. Without those capabilities, and several other criteria, agencies can't advance to stage three.

However, the scores show many agencies do have the capability to develop the initial plans for creating the architecture, GAO officials said. For stage two, agencies scored in the high 80s and 90s in satisfying the criteria for creating plans that outline the as-is and to-be environments and transition plans. Agencies also showed attention to planning performance metrics, a particularly challenging area to tackle, officials said.

"There's definitely a lot of work to plan the architecture happening," Holland said.

Despite the majority of agencies in the lower stages, many agencies are making significant progress, such as the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Personnel Management, Holland said. Eight agencies or departments need to satisfy five or fewer criteria to advance to the fifth and final stage, he said.

"It's not quite so bleak," he said. "We're looking at some significant progress."

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