EOP does right

The Executive Office of the President is the only agency to reach the fifth and final stage of maturity on the General Accounting Office's framework for evaluating enterprise architectures. White House chief information officer Carlos Solari credits that success in part to the level of attention paid by architecture staff and top managers.

"I created a little religion around enterprise architecture within my own staff," Solari said. "I make it a central part of our activities. We don't go build something without making sure the folks who manage the enterprise architecture on a day-to-day basis are a part of the process."

The systems development life cycle is critical to a successful and effective architecture, he said. "If you don't have that process, then you essentially have an enterprise architecture that is a snapshot in time that doesn't get fed," Solari said. "I've insisted that we have a life cycle, and the folks have taken to that."

Despite being alone at the final frontier of GAO's architecture maturity, he said that what he and his employees are doing is not unique.

"We're doing the fundamentals," he said. "It's no more sexy than that."

The office had the benefit of starting from scratch, Solari said, building an architecture program from the beginning with the right tools and the right team of experienced personnel. The agency, which he described as a federation of organizations supporting the White House, also enjoys support for the architecture work from top managers.

Like officials at other agencies, EOP officials struggled to address metrics for the architecture, Solari said. Early in the process, they mapped current and future states and tracked progress through specific initiatives, which centered mainly on rebuilding the IT infrastructure. Officials will focus on developing performance metrics that consider business operations — how well they help officials at the Office of Management and Budget and White House operations, he said.

"I wouldn't say we've achieved full maturity, but we have taken serious stock of using these things to convey where we begin and where we are on the road to where we want to be," Solari said.

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