OMB analyzing architecture of agency business lines

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Office of Management and Budget is reviewing agency enterprise architectures with a keen eye toward how the blueprints will change mission-critical business lines.

Dick Burk, OMB’s chief architect, said today that his office has been meeting weekly with agency chief architects to have them focus on specific business segments, and to get the owner of that business line to sign off on the architecture.

“We want the architecture to be a reflection of their business because in the past we’ve seen it be a reflection of their” information technology, Burk said here at the 2007 Information Processing Interagency Conference sponsored by the Government Information Technology Executive Conference. “If we are going to solve the problems of the agency, we need the architecture to reflect where the business wants to be in three to five years.”

Burk said 25 of 26 agencies submitted their enterprise architectures for review, and OMB will have them analyzed by early April. With 93 percent of all development, modernization and enhancement funding going toward mission-critical systems, OMB thought segment architecture would be a valuable tool to improve the use of enterprise architecture, he said.

The idea of focusing on specific agency business segments developed out of the need to ensure departments were not limiting architectures to the “IT ghetto,” Burk said. Chief information officers and chief architects must show enterprise architecture’s value outside of IT, he added.

“The value of the EA has not yet been specifically and clearly articulated in numbers that are convincing,” he said. “There are a lot of anecdotes, so we are developing the hard data to get definitive value of EA.”

Burk said OMB is reviewing the data and he hopes the agency will release it this year.

For the most part, agencies dove into their mission-critical business architecture segments. Burk said a few agency enterprise architectures were not mature enough to analyze, so those chief architects at those agencies focused on business services such as financial management or procurement, while others were focused on getting their IT infrastructure in place before moving into mission-critical areas.

OMB asked agencies to drill down only into one segment, but at least six did two, Burk said.

“Now they have experience in doing this and can do more in the future,” he said. “The whole idea is to get into their core business areas.”

Burk also encouraged vendors and agency IT managers to continue to talk to business people in the language of business: mission operations, cost, risk and efficiencies. He said the exercise of architecting a business line forces agency IT managers to engage stakeholders and be proactive about moving enterprise architecture forward.

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