OMB catalogs enterprise architecture policies

Scattered policies and guidance hinder cross-agency initiatives, agency says

Federal Transition Framework [OMB]

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The Office of Management and Budget has created a catalog of federal enterprise architecture guidance and policies to help chief information officers implement various governmentwide initiatives. The catalog is part of a new Federal Transition Framework (FTF), which OMB announced July 6.

With cross-agency information on information technology policy consolidated in one convenient location, “agencies are able to quickly and more efficiently make decisions related to their overall mission,” said Karen Evans, administrator of e-government and IT at OMB, in a press release.

In one PDF document, the catalog combines all OMB guidance and architectural information for cross-agency IT initiatives such as e-government, lines of business, IPv6 and Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12.

The catalog is relatively small now, but it will get bigger, said Richard Burk, OMB’s chief architect.

The new framework will give agencies access to consistent, complete and detailed information they can use to improve their capital planning efforts. OMB officials said they expect the catalog to help agencies implement cross-agency initiatives and improve the electronic services they offer.

OMB said it will work with agencies and directors of the e-government and lines-of-business initiatives to expand the information in the catalog before releasing it in September.

Agencies will see a return on investment as they use the catalog, said Bryan Crittenton, president and chief executive officer of 6K Systems, an IT consulting firm. Implementing the federal enterprise architecture can be a painful and tedious process even with the new tools OMB is offering, he said, but the use of such tools is essential for good financial management.

Burk told vendors last week during a briefing at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., that agencies with good enterprise architecture programs tend to spend their IT dollars most efficiently.

FTF represents a continuing evolution of the federal enterprise architecture, said Mark Forman, former administrator of e-government and IT at OMB and now a partner at KPMG’s Risk Advisory Services. When officials first conceived of the federal enterprise architecture, they had no best practices or lessons learned on which to base their direction, he said.

Future versions of the framework will provide information about enterprise architecture that can improve agency operations, said Ed Seidewitz, vice president of model-driven architecture services at Data Access Technologies. The current iteration of the framework is a first step, he said.

“Let’s see what happens in the next six months, in the next year, once agencies get hold of this,” he said.

Senate committee slams e-govWhile the Office of Management and Budget continues to encourage enterprise architecture, e-government and other initiatives, the Senate Appropriations Committee has shown little confidence in the effectiveness of at least one family of efforts.

The committee recommended no funding for e-government activities in fiscal 2007, calling the benefits of the Bush administration’s initiatives vague and any realistic savings uncertain.

The committee’s report on the fiscal 2007 Science, State, Justice, Commerce and Related Agencies Appropriations Act said the administration cannot quantify the benefits of cross-agency initiatives. It added that the administration conducted a cost/benefit analysis of the initiatives on a governmentwide basis only.

“The committee has no confidence that the amounts being assessed have any relationship to the benefits anticipated to be returned,” the report states. The funding limitations would affect agencies covered under this appropriations bill.

— Matthew Weigelt

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