OMB's Burk: Use architecture to improve your mission

Agencies are too willing to follow the Office of Management and Budget’s lead when it comes to developing their enterprise architecture instead of developing it on their own, the government’s chief architect said today.

Richard Burk, OMB’s chief architect, said he would prefer to see agencies focus their resources and efforts on using their modernization blueprint to meet the agency’s core mission than comply with administration reports.

“The amount of information we got with agency assessments this year was incredible,” Burk said after he spoke at Collaborative Expedition Workshop in Arlington, Va. “We got through the information, but I’m concerned that the federal enterprise architecture assessment has turned into a cottage industry for consultants helping to fill out the assessments. We will look at how we can ease the burden on agencies.”

Burk said he hopes to reduce the number of documents agencies turn in each year.

“Maybe we just need to see their transitional strategy and operation documents of where the agency wants to be,” he said. “That and the budget documents should give us an idea of how well the EA is influencing the agency.”

Burk said that to tie agency architecture’s to its mission, chief architects must show value to the entire organization. They can do that by using OMB’s assessments and other documents as a framework.

“The framework defines terms and shows the relationships between business lines,” Burk said. “Along with the [federal enterprise architecture], the segment architecture approach, the Federal Transition Framework and other things are used to make the [enterprise architecture] operational.”

Burk also said agencies should look at their missions and modify the reference models to reflect what they do. Agencies should not try to match their investments with the federal enterprise architecture, he said.

To help agencies use their enterprise architecture to show value to their mission, OMB will issue guidance in the next month requiring agencies to develop metrics for their architectures.

“We will provide a few metrics, but it will be more important for the agencies to develop the measures that meet their needs,” Burk said. “They have to be meaningful to the businesspeople.”


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