DOD’s BEA doesn’t rock the boat

Officials try to temper the complexities of implementation

You won’t find a lot of new content in the latest version of the Defense Department’s business enterprise architecture. And that’s by design.

Some architecture clean-up work is included under the six business enterprise priority areas in Version 4.0 of the BEA, released to Congress Sept. 28. Also, seven HTML enhancements were made, starting with a new home page that improves style and makes it easier to navigate.

But unlike the enterprise transition plan, which accompanied the BEA and includes several new areas of focus, Thomas Modly and Paul Brinkley, co-directors of the Business Transformation Agency, said they intentionally limited the BEA’s content to reduce the number of complications facing service and agency components [GCN.com, Quickfind 698].

“Every time you strike a new BEA, you cause ripple effects with all these other programs that have to comply,” Modly said. “They’re trying to march toward milestones, but if you add levels of complexity, it makes it that much more difficult for them to achieve what they need to achieve.”

Eventually, Brinkley and Modly said, they hope to push the business enterprise architecture’s release to yearly, instead of biannually. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2005 currently requires Defense to deliver an updated BEA and enterprise transition plan to Congress every six months.

“I think it’s been acknowledged now that we have established probably the most credible architecture in the federal government in terms of representing how the enterprise needs to interoperate and work together,” Brinkley added.

That’s based on the growing number of requests from other agencies for BEA help.
Employees, however, can become too dependent on architectures, relying on them instead of on management to make decisions, Brinkley said.

“We had to break a culture here that was trying to use architecture to manage,” Brinkley said. “That never works. Our approach is [that] the department has a management structure; it has a management team that makes decisions about what we’re going to do in common and what we’re not going to do in common.”

Version 4.0 features business process model improvements, including a restructuring to reduce data redundancy, usability improvements and the elimination of numerous process modeling standard violations, according to a summary.

One area that did see some significant change, however, was the enterprise transition plan.

In the latest ETP, the office inherits the transformation efforts of the Military Health System and features a business framework that sets up common business improvement areas to help tie together systems initiatives across the department.

Other components of BTA include the Army, Navy, Air Force, Defense Logistics Agency, Transportation Command, and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service.

Since last September, BTA has met nearly 90 percent of its enterprise transition plan milestones, Modly said.

In the next year, BTA will track the Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System and the Business Enterprise Information Services program. The Army and Air Force will plan to implement DIMHRS in 2008.

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