Limited progress noted on DOD business architecture

The Defense Department, in developing its business enterprise architecture, has taken longer and has made limited progress even after three years of effort and over $203 million in obligations, a General Accounting Office report found.

In a report released yesterday, “DOD Business Systems Modernization: Limited Progress in Development of Business Enterprise Architecture and Oversight of Information Technology Investments,” the GAO said the DOD still has no one responsible for the accountability and responsibility of directing, overseeing and approving the business architecture.

Also, GAO found that the DOD has not defined performance metrics to evaluate the architecture’s quality, content and utility.

DOD relies on about 2,300 business systems, including accounting, acquisition, logistics and personnel systems. IBM Corp. is building the business enterprise architecture for the DOD’s Business Management Modernization Program office. Eventually the 2,300 systems will be whittled down to one fully-integrated business system.

The architecture would identify business rules as well as the technology needed for a departmentwide financial infrastructure. The financial framework has seven business areas: acquisition, accounting and financial management, environmental liabilities, logistics, personnel and readiness, program and budget, and technology infrastructure and real property. A domain owner will manage each business area.

But GAO said the Defense Department still has not adopted key architecture management best practices. Also, GAO found that the DOD has not clearly defined the roles and responsibilities of the domains, established common investment criteria, and conducted a comprehensive review of its existing business systems to ensure that they are consistent with the architecture.

“The limited progress that DOD has made is due, in part, to the lack of clearly assigned, accountable, and sustained program leadership and to changes in the program direction and priorities,” according to the report.

This is GAO’s fourth report on the DOD’s business enterprise architecture. Other reports were issued in May 2001, February 2003 and September 2003.

The Defense Department disagreed with GAO’s findings that progress has been limited. The DOD stated that while progress over the past three years has been slower than GAO or the DOD would prefer, it has been significant.

Further, DOD said it recognizes that it needs to develop detailed plans and establish performance metrics to measure and track program progress in order to determine what it wants to accomplish by a certain point in time, what it has already accomplished, and how much it has spent.

The Defense Department is one of the largest organizations in the world. In fiscal 2003, the DOD reported that its operations involved over $1 trillion in assets, nearly $1.6 trillion in liabilities, about 3.3 million military and civilian personnel, and disbursements of over $416 billion, according to the GAO.

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