CIO Council proposes reference model updating

The CIO Council is recommending a five-step process for updating reference models of the federal enterprise architecture.

The CIO Council’s Architecture and Infrastructure Committee (AIC) formalized in June a process revision proposal that the Office of Management and Budget is considering. Currently, no standard process exits for instituting changes to the reference models.

The proposal, which the Federal Enterprise Architecture Program Management Office has endorsed, envisions the process beginning with the submission of proposed changes to the Reference Model Revision Assessment Team. If approved following AIC’s and OMB’s review, an appointed process owner would convene a team to shepherd the changes. Final authority over the approved changes would be reserved for OMB’s administrator of e-government and information technology.

Authors of the process envision a greater level of change in the lower, more detailed levels of the reference models and less at higher levels of granularity. That way the reference models will appear stable to major decision-makers, the proposal document states. “It is for this reason that the ‘layered’ approach of building the reference models was and will continue to be a sensible approach,” it states.

Changes will also likely occur faster within some reference models than others.

The technical and performance reference models may need semi-annual updates due to rapid innovations, while updates to the data and business reference models will probably occur as needed, the document states. The service reference model occupies the middle ground between the dynamic and static poles.

The technical reference model is also the least well constructed of the five reference models, said an architecture official who spoke on condition of anonymity. “The [model] is terrible…. It’s not up to [National Institute of Standards and Technology] standards,” the official said.

Costs associated with executing the maintenance process will likely be initially higher than in later years because of pent up demand for reference model revisions, according to the document.

It also includes a section that endorses making the federal enterprise architecture operational. “It is time to move from the conceptual development and initial deployment phases of the [federal enterprise architecture] into full implementation and operation states,” the document states.

Turning the reference models, to date mostly a collection of taxonomies, into an operational architecture could be done by converging the reference models with agency enterprise architecture via the Federal Enterprise Architecture Management System (FEAMS), the document states.

Populating FEAMS with more data will allow for increased cross agency collaboration, analysis and performance within selected business lines, the document states.

The FEAMS tool is also in need of updating, the architecture official said. “Its ability to search is somewhat limited, based on the rational database that it uses.”

The information contained within it is not descriptive enough to create an operational federal enterprise architecture, the official added. “Can it be? Yes, but it depend on how much money they’re willing to spend on it.”

OMB, AIC and the Federal Enterprise Architecture Program Office are readying a white paper on FEAMS for executive review by October or November.

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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