EA creating new stovepipes

Enterprise architecture is supposed to make cross-agency collaboration possible, but it’s also creating a new set of barriers, said Mary McCaffery, senior adviser to the Environmental Protection Agency chief information officer.

Agencies are taking their own framework approaches in developing enterprise architecture, she said, speaking today at a breakfast panel sponsored by the Bethesda chapter of AFCEA International.

“They have their favorite tools, they have their favorite approaches,” she added. In the case of agencies with which the EPA needs to share data, “our approach is to get those people in a room and see if they can’t design across agency enterprise architecture.”

The question of how to govern agency implementations of enterprise architecture will continue to be a pressing issue, said Roy Mabry, a Defense Department senior enterprise architect. The DOD approach is to work through its own architecture reference models to link up with the federal enterprise architecture.

Architecture governance needs to be done in a federated fashion, with top-level policies implemented in a decentralized way, he said. A federal enterprise architecture taxonomy and vocabulary will create an overarching framework for spotting collaboration opportunities, Mabry added.

But even within a federated environment there needs to be some pushback against agency protestations of exceptionality, said Darren Ash, the Transportation Department's associate CIO for information technology management. “Just because you’re Federal Highways, that doesn’t mean you’re unique in the world,” he said.

CIOs should not have exclusive purview over enterprise architecture, Ash added. Other executives should also have a voice in the process.

Getting metrics in place is also a necessary step, said Michael Daconta, the Homeland Security Department's metadata program manager. The way to do that may be to view enterprise architecture as the civilian equivalent as a combat multiplier, Daconta said. Combat multipliers attempt to gauge the effect of particular instrument rather than measure the entirety of combat itself.

Another metric could be state and local adoption of the data reference model portion of the federal enterprise architecture, McCaffery said. The latest revised version of the data reference model Extensible Markup Language schema was posted online today for public comment.

Enterprise architecture faces a lack of appreciation on Capitol Hill of how much funding it’s going to take to get the job done, said Ira Grossman, chief architect for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Both the Senate and the House versions of the fiscal 2006 spending bills propose a $1.6 million cut in the NOAA architecture budget, he said.

Also, the Office of Management and Budget federal enterprise architecture program office needs more permanent staff, Grossman said. “One full-time person cannot be do it by himself,” he said, referring to the Chief Architect Dick Burk, the one full-time equivalent employee inside the program office.

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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