IG takes issue with Energy architecture

The Energy Department has not fully developed and implemented an enterprise architecture to manage its annual $2.5 billion information technology expenditures, according to an inspector general’s report.

Department officials have not fully defined current and future IT requirements, such as supporting applications and hardware, desired systems and technology standards, the report states. They also haven’t completed efforts to define data to support business requirements. Furthermore, DOE officials have not developed plans for a transition to a desired architecture.

"Such plans are essential for ensuring that future system developments are compatible and are not duplicative," Gregory Friedman, Energy’s IG, wrote. "For example, the department had not developed a plan for eliminating long-standing problems with duplicative systems across the enterprise."

The report also notes that several program offices that tried to develop architecture plans missed important elements and did not fully integrated the plans with departmentwide efforts. For example, the Office of Environmental Management, the National Nuclear Security Administration and Office of Science were all developing separate architectures and could not ensure they would avoid redundancy among cross-cutting information systems.

Without improvements, DOE, which has spent $14 million and 10 years on a departmentwide architecture, might not effectively manage IT investments. The results cold be "costly and potentially incompatible and non-integrated systems," the report warns. Since 1998, the IG’s office has issued a series of reports showing "more than $155 million in lost cost savings and operational inefficiencies resulting from the lack of an architecture."

The report recommends that the chief information officer in coordination with the National Nuclear Security Administration’s administrator and program officers:

• Modify the enterprise architecture’s existing policy and guidance to describe its relationship with strategic plans and the capital planning process, among other things.

• Develop, approve and implement a program management plan to incorporate cost, scope and schedule for developing program-level and departmentwide architectures.

• Include efficiency measures for developing and implementing the architecture into the department’s annual performance budget.

The report states that DOE’s management generally agreed with the report but had issues with certain conclusions. For example, officials said architecture standards were updated and published in each new version of the enterprise architecture and that investments are reviewed annually for compliance with the document.

The IG’s office performed the audit between October 2003 and March 2005. The report is dated April 21, 2005.

Last week, during a presentation with several vendors, Rose Parkes,Energy's CIO, said the department has been working hard to ensure that the enterprise architecture provides a business direction. "How can you decide what to invest in if you don’t know where you are and where you want to be?" she asked.

She said the department has created an enterprise architecture working group to understand the value of the plan. She said DOE officials haven’t done a great job of selling it as a business tool and they need to demonstrate its value in program areas.

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