GAO report says Defense business EA has ‘limited utility’

The Defense Department has invested nearly four years and $318 million into developing a business enterprise architecture, but has very little to show for its efforts, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.

In the report Randolph Hite, the director of IT architecture and systems issues for GAO, said DOD’s current enterprise architecture is “incomplete, inconsistent and not integrated and, thus, has limited utility.”

The Defense Department has 4,700 business systems, including databases that handle accounting, acquisition, finance, logistics and personnel functions. These multiple systems contain redundant systems and have manual data entry and little standardization, GAO found.

“Until the department develops an approved, well-defined architecture that includes a clear purpose and scope and integrated products, it remains at risk of not achieving its intended business modernization goals and of not having an architecture that the stakeholders can use to guide and constrain ongoing and planned business systems investments to prevent duplicative and noninteroperable systems,” Hite said in the report.

Hite added that the Defense Department has failed to incorporate GAO recommendations made over the past several years. Some of those recommendations include:

  • Establish an effective governance strategy

  • Develop program plans that explicitly identify measurable goals and outcomes to be achieved

  • Perform effective configuration management

  • Develop a well-defined architecture that describe the “As Is” business and technology environments and a transition plan

“Despite six BEA releases and two updates, DOD still does not have a version of an enterprise architecture that can be considered well-defined—meaning that the architecture, for example, has a clearly defined purpose that can be linked to the department’s goals and objectives and describes both the ‘As Is’ and the ‘To Be’ environments; consists of integrated and consistent architecture products; and has been approved by department leadership,” the report said.

Since 1995, GAO has come down hard on DOD's battered business systems modernization efforts. The department's Business Management Modernization Program (BMMP) was officially established by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in July 2001.

In January, GAO designated DOD’s business systems modernization program a “High Risk Area” for the 10th consecutive year.

In the most recent report, GAO recommended that the defense secretary direct the deputy secretary, as chair of the Defense Business Systems Management Committee (DBSMC), to:
  • Immediately disclose the state of its BEA program to DOD’s congressional authorization and appropriations committees

  • Ensure each of GAO’s prior recommendations related to BEA management are reflected in DOD’s plans

  • Assess workforce knowledge and skill needs and capabilities while identifying gaps and filling the gaps

The Defense Department agreed with GAO’s recommendations.

The BMMP program, according to Paul Brinkley, special assistant for business transformation, and Thomas Modly, deputy undersecretary of defense for financial management, has been restructured to accelerate transformation, strength oversight and expand senior leadership involvement.

“The DBSMC leadership is committed to implementing GAO recommendations. BMMP staff continues to meet with GAO staff to bring each recommendation to closure,” Defense officials said in their response.

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