GAO to DOD: Good first step on business architecture

The Defense Department has met or has partially met five of six congressional mandates to improve its business systems modernization efforts, according to the Government Accountability Office.

GAO last week found that Version 3.0 DOD’s business architecture, which it submitted to Congress Sept. 30, represents “important progress” but has yet to satisfy one key requirement: that all investments exceeding $1 million are approved by the Defense Business Systems Management Committee.

Lawmakers required DOD in the 2005 National Defense Authorization Act to improve the management of its business systems modernization efforts. After spending more than $300 million on the Business Management Modernization Program, Congress wanted tighter control and more oversight for what DOD has received for its money. DOD is relying on more than 4,200 business systems, and spent about $13.3 billion in 2005 for operations, maintenance and modernization work on those applications, GAO found.

Congress asked GAO to evaluate DOD’s latest version of its business architecture. GAO’s report found DOD needed to add “content and scope” to its architecture and transition plan, and ensure that corporate investment management structures and processes are effectively implemented and full budgetary disclosure occurs.

Auditors did find that DOD met one requirement fully: the delegation of responsibility for business systems to a specific office within the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Late last month, DOD created a new office to manage this process.

The four mandates that DOD only partially met were:
  • Developing a business architecture plan. GAO found that DOD needs to develop an “As-Is” architecture in addition to the “To-Be” architecture.

  • Developing a transition plan for implementing the architecture. Auditors found there needs to be a more clear integration between the architecture and transition plan.

  • Identifying each business system proposed for funding for fiscal 2006 and out years, and identifying the funds for current services and for the modernization of those services.

  • By March 15, 2005, each approval authority must establish an investment review process.

“This progress provides a foundation upon which to build,” GAO said. “However, much more work remains to be accomplished to fully satisfy the act and address the department’s IT management weaknesses, particularly with regard to sufficiently developing the EA [enterprise architecture] and transition plan and ensuring that investment review and approval processes are institutionally implemented.”

DOD disagreed with two of GAO’s points.

First, Defense officials said developing a “comprehensive” As-Is architecture would not be an “effective use of time and resources.” DOD would rather perform this analysis with the business process review than the architecture management.

DOD also said GAO misunderstood the integration between the EA and transition plan.

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