OMB will measure EA use

It's not enough for agencies to have a documented enterprise architecture -- they actually have to use it, Office of Management and Budget officials say.

"We're going to be looking much more toward use and results," said Dick Burk, OMB's chief architect. He spoke during a panel earlier this week in the Management of Change Conference in Philadelphia.

As a result, annual assessments of agency architectures will begin next year to evaluate how deeply enterprise architecture is integrated into the capital planning and investment control process, whether agencies use available governmentwide solutions, and "what looks different now that you have an architecture," Burk said.

Segment advances will be rewarded, he added. "We'll recognize the parts [of an agency] as having advanced," Burk said. "You can't boil the ocean."

Guidance on the new architecture assessment model should be available within the next three to four months, with the assessment tool released sometime around October, Burk said. Agencies will have until March 31, 2006, to submit their cases; the deadline for the largely unchanged 2005 architecture assessments is May 31. This month, OMB officials released Version 1.5 of the assessment model in an attempt to clarify expectations.

The first version was vague, Burk said. "We didn't articulate better what we meant by, for example, a transition strategy," he said. "One agency held up one piece of paper to us and said, 'This is our transition strategy.' "

Still, agency adoption of enterprise architecture faces systematic challenges, Burk said. Congress takes a program-by-program approach to funding and oversight, which encourages program managers to do the same, he said. Consequently, the future to-be state of an architecture plan needs to clearly situate individual projects. "The relationship between functions and sets of services delivered by [information technology] and programs -- those connections have to be made and be identified clearly," Burk said.

Building reusable components also "does challenge our existing funding relation" with Congress, Burk said. Appropriations committees may not be eager to place the limited funds they control into accounts for governmentwide component development. "There are a lot of institutions here that are invested in a way of operating," he said.

Officials haven't figured out how to resolve that problem, he added.

Consolidating infrastructure requires a larger concerted effort than just an enterprise architecture program office, said Con Kenney, Federal Aviation Administration chief architect, who was also on the panel. It entails "a lot of other things -- governance, political will, methodology and tools that go well beyond" those.

The most likely model for enterprise architecture adoption is along Geoffrey Moore’s crossing-the-chasm method, Kenney said. Early adopters' successful use of the model will reverse nonbelievers' skepticism. But, "you have to start with that relatively small group of people because if you start with a huge group, it’s a lot harder to find common ground."

Working in bite-size chunks will produce results impossible to achieve with an agencywide implementation, Burk said. "You do this line of business by line of business as you work through an agency."

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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