Brinkley: BEA ready to transform Pentagon

The time has come in the Defense Department to stop creating a business enterprise architecture, said Paul Brinkley, deputy undersecretary of Defense for business transformation. It’s now time to start implementing it, he said.

Version 3.0 of DOD’s business enterprise architecture is set to debut by the end of this month, along with a transition plan for implementation.

The plan “creates a baseline of new thinking about how we’re going to approach business transformation within” DOD, Brinkley said today at FCW Events’ Enterprise Architecture conference and exhibition in Washington, D.C.

For warfighters, the current hodgepodge of stovepiped systems translates into real hardships, including missed pay and lost medical benefits. Military logisticians often cannot know the exact location of shipped material, and DOD financial management has long been a mess.

The Pentagon’s four-year effort to streamline and transform its operations in accounting, acquisition, logistics, personnel and other business areas has long been the object of strong criticism from the Government Accountability Office. Recently it has also received increased congressional scrutiny.

Program officials decided to revamp the project earlier this year to focus more on outcomes rather than processes. Previously, an important measurement of success was how many systems the program turned off, Brinkley said. “But you’ll never ever fix your business operations if you try to fix them by getting rid of all your disparate business systems.” Instead, you need to transform the organization. “You get rid of disparate business systems by cleaning up your operations and by articulating your transformation efforts in terms of capability outcomes, and the systems will follow,” Brinkley said.

The new architecture and accompanying plan commits the program office to fulfilling a set of staggered goals. “I assure you we’re going to miss some of them,” Brinkley said. “And I assure you we’re going to pull some of them in. The ones we miss, we’ll put a recovery plan [in place], and the ones we pull in, we’ll pat ourselves on the back and set new ones,” he added. An important outcome is the creation of a process for continual improvement, Brinkley said.

Among the program’s new features is a program that will give managers an overview of various metrics, often called a dashboard. The program will also enable the Pentagon to present a single face toward industry, an increasingly important requirement as the government relies more on contractors, Brinkley said.

A lot of that new functionality will rest on new data transparency, although the program seeks only to standardize data when it’s necessary, Brinkley said. Standardization is occurring only for “the data elements necessary to facilitate rapid decision-making,” he added.

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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