The federal enterprise architecture: Where it fits

Enterprise architecture entered the federal government’s consciousness in 1996 with the passage of the Clinger-Cohen Act, an expansive piece of legislation containing a variety of measures intended to improve federal information technology planning and management.

Clinger-Cohen did not directly implement enterprise architecture, but it did call for agencies to adopt an IT architecture to govern the management and acquisition of new IT to ensure that it conformed to the agencies’ strategic goals.

The federal enterprise architecture, a set of reference models that the Office of Management and Budget provides, came later with the Bush administration. The E-Government Act of 2002 instituted still more controls over IT investments, and OMB released the original federal enterprise architecture models during the following months.

“OMB’s FEA is extremely important not only for development of individual agency EAs but also from the standpoint of developing cross-agency enterprise solutions,” said Michael Dunham, former chief architect at the Treasury Department and now senior principal consultant at Keane. “Agencies need common language to find the means to collaborate. The FEA provides that common language.”
The federal enterprise architecture is also business centered, Dunham said, which gives agencies a head start on linking their architectures to business needs.

How much of the federal enterprise architecture is applicable to an individual agency’s needs is a matter for agency leaders to decide, said Beverly Hacker, former chief architect at Treasury and now principal enterprise architect at Citizant. “I personally think that OMB always expects agencies to tailor guidance to their unique situations.”

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

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