OMB, CIO Council issue architecture principles

The Office of Management and Budget and the CIO Council released today a new framework that underpins many of the Bush administration’s core management tenets.

The Architecture Principles for the U.S. Government defines what is important to the administration, said Karen Evans, OMB’s administrator for e-government and information technology.

“These principles balance department and agency mandates on the one hand and governmentwide interests on the other,” wrote Evans, also the council’s director, and Dave Wennergren, Defense Department deputy chief information officer and vice chairman of the council, in an e-mail message to CIOs. “Clear, well-understood and sanctioned principles, combined with an executive commitment to enforce them, help drive change across disparate departments and programs, and also within agencies.”

Richard Burk, OMB’s chief architect, who helped develop these principles during the past year, said that although the values may seem simplistic on the surface, the implications are deeper.

“All of these fundamental principles underpin the administration’s effort and it is good to get them down on paper so when we have a discussions with people who want to maintain the status quo, we can say ‘That has been decided and now we have to figure out how to do it,'" Burk said. “These are architectural reaffirmation of the President’s message that we want to be a citizen centered results oriented government.”

The principles include:
  • The federal government focuses on people. That means agencies will design and apply their business processes and services to benefit people and present a unified face when doing so.
  • The federal government is a single unified enterprise. That means agencies need to work together to reach common goals, including integrating services. “The implication is we may sub-optimize at one department level for the good of the entire enterprise,” Burk said. “Thus the rationale that some agencies move from IP Version 4 to IPv6 is difficult to make a cost justification, but it is for the benefit of the entire government so that is why we are doing it.”
  • Federal agencies collaborate with other governments and people. That means agencies will work more closely with other federal, state and local agencies and private-sector experts. “We recognize this isn’t just about cross agency collaboration, but we are in a government ecosystem that includes state and local governments and the private sector,” Burk said. “When we come to conclusions about standards and what data we use, we will do that in collaborative fashion in all three sectors.”
  • The federal architecture is mission-driven. That means agency enterprise architectures are driven by business needs and guide capital planning and investment processes.
  • Security, privacy and protecting information are core government needs. Agencies must apply security and privacy consistently and monitor compliance. Security controls also must be clearly defined so cost and risk are managed.
  • Information is a national asset. Agencies will improve the information-sharing environment to disseminate public information. That requires departments to be the authoritative source of information.
  • The federal architecture simplifies government operations. The enterprise architecture is designed to reduce complexity and enable integration among software and hardware components. Agencies should share best practices and reuse business and technical components.
“The principles help narrow some of the decisions we need to make because they eliminate decisions that don’t meet the federal government’s objectives,” Burk said. “It helps agencies balance departmental mandates with governmentwide interests. The principles are boundary markers.”

Using these high-level principles as guidance, agency program and technical officials are expect
d to adopt these principles and identify agency-specific ones that express the same shared focus, Evans and Wennergren wrote.

Burk added that the principles show they are about not only technology but also how agencies deliver services to people.

“I’m very pleased these are finally out,” he added. “These will help us begin to think more often as being a single government and when we take action we will think about it that way.”

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