GAO: DOD’s business architecture needs details

The Defense Department’s Business Enterprise Architecture lacks a detailed implementation strategy, according to the Government Accountability Office. The architecture’s federated approach doesn’t provide enough guidance for military services and components to join the departmentwide effort, GAO said in a report released April 16.

DOD’s Business Transformation Agency, led by new Director David Fisher, released Version 4.0 of its Business Enterprise Architecture last September. The release coincided with Version 2.0 of BTA’s Enterprise Transition Plan. Together, the policies present a framework to shape DOD’s ongoing modernization and consolidation of hundreds of business and financial systems.

The latest architecture is an improvement over previous versions, GAO wrote in its report, but still is not aligned with architectures in various military services and components.

BTA officials have often said their architecture is intentionally designed to be open and loose, following a federated strategy to fit in with components’ architectures. BTA doesn’t want to leave the rest of DOD behind by moving ahead too fast, Fisher told reporters during a roundtable discussion in February.

DOD’s Business Mission Area, a separate component, released a federation strategy in September. But that strategy is insufficient, according to GAO.

“The [BMA] strategy does not adequately define the tasks needed to achieve the strategy’s goals, including those associated with executing high-level activities and providing related capabilities, products and services,” the report states.

For example, BMA’s strategy fails to address how the federated implementation will be governed, how progress will be measured and how resources will be provided, according to the report.

In comments printed with the report, DOD objected strongly to some of GAO’s recommendations. The BMA federation strategy applies only to specific areas and is not meant to represent DOD’s entire enterprise approach, department officials wrote in a letter to GAO.

The department will soon issue the formal DOD Enterprise Architecture Federation Strategy, which will address many of the governance issues raised by GAO, the letter states. All services and components, including BMA, will adhere to that strategy when it is issued.

Meanwhile, DOD's business modernization path will remain unclear, according to the report. “Without [that plan], the department will remain challenged in its ability to minimize duplication and maximize interoperability among its thousands of business systems,” GAO said.

GAO first described DOD’s Business Systems Modernization program as high risk in 1995, and it still has that designation. Congress gave DOD $15.5 billion in fiscal 2006 for operating, maintaining and modernizing its business systems.

BTA and BMA officials were not able to comment by deadline.

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