Tracking architectural benefits

The federal government lacks good ways to measure agency improvements attributable to enterprise architecture, according to Government Accountability Office officials.

Officials at Congress' watchdog agency are planning a best practices study that will give agency officials more detail about gauging architecture efforts.

Officials find it difficult to define how much enterprise architecture is enough, said Randy Hite, director of information technology architecture and systems issues at the General Accounting Office.

"There is a hunger for information on dealing with measurement," he told Federal Computer Week. The study's due date hasn't been decided yet, he added.

"You can't know whether an effort is successful unless you're measuring the before and after," said Mark Bird, GAO's assistant director for IT management.

GAO's enterprise architecture maturity framework -- a method of assessing how well agencies are doing in their architecture efforts -- only tells agency architects they should establish metrics. The framework doesn't actually define those benchmarks. "This is what this research will identify," Hite said.

GAO officials say the study will produce information to be used as a supplement to their maturity framework. "We're happy with the framework," Bird said. "We don't have any current plans to change the framework."

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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