OMB to issue EA best practices to drive business value

Agencies will need to view their enterprise architectures as tools for improving business decisions and not merely as exercises in information technology efficiency to meet the next layer of federal requirements, Richard Burk, chief architect at the Office of Management and Budget, said today.

At the same time, agencies will have to collaborate more with one another to develop and deliver the next generation of services.

OMB will publish guidance to help agencies in both areas this month. Next week, OMB will publish on best practices it identified through the enterprise architecture assessment process, such as documents associated with a data or services architecture, Burk said.

“If they looked like they were of a level to be transferable and to be used by other agencies, we vetted those and went back to agencies to ask if we can use and post it,” he said at the Enterprise Architecture 2007 conference held by the E-Gov Institute. The institute is owned by 1105 Media, the parent company of Federal Computer Week. Burk announced last month that he is retiring after more than 35 years in government. His last day is Sept. 30.

OMB expects the agencies with the best practices to be available to help other agencies.

By Sept. 30, OMB will provide a new chapter around measuring the value of enterprise architecture in its guidance document, “Value to the Mission and Enterprise Architecture Guidance.”

“This will be part of what we ask agencies to do to stay green in March,” Burk said.

The guidance will be built into OMB’s assessment process to guide agencies in the next six months in putting it in place and collecting the information associated with those metrics.

“It’s not that they have to show results. They have to institute a value measuring program as part of their EA effort,” he said.

Government must look at new techniques that may be found in its agencies and shared in collaborative efforts among agencies; state, local and federal governments; and public and private sectors, such as the next-generation air traffic system and the Information Sharing Environment.

“The more we focus on citizens and reduce the focus on agencies, the more we see the need for cross-agencies collaboration,” he said.

Agencies have made a significant leap in their enterprise architectures, Burk said. Every agency now has a functioning architecture with one or more segments completed. To do that, agency chief architects had to get out of the IT silo and talk with the business side and learn to speak in their terms. Agency business units then had to align their future plan with the enterprise architecture and sign off on their commitment to it, Burk said.

This year, agencies will have to advance their architectures and include a segment that is a core business, he said. Depending on the agency, that may mean mortgages, health care or stopping terrorists.

At the conference, the E-Gov Institute recognized four agencies for Excellence in Enterprise Architecture:
  • The Army’s Army Business Transformation.
  • The Defense Business Transformation Agency’s Enterprise Transition Plan.
  • The Internal Revenue Service’s IRS Enterprise Architecture.
  • The Administration for Children and Families of the Health and Human Services Department, HHS/ACF Grants Center of Excellence.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.


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