Agencies get directions for segment architecture

A multiagency team put together by the Office of Management and Budget released a report that provides a step-by-step process on how agencies can develop and use segment architectures.

The Federal Segment Architecture Working Group published the report Dec. 9. The FSAWG is a team of architects from 10 federal agencies, OMB and two cross-agency architecture initiatives.

The group’s report is named the Federal Segment Architecture Methodology. Segment architecture is like a mini-enterprise architecture that focuses on a single business process in an organization. It identifies the data elements, technical pieces, and performance measures for a single business process.

The idea for segment architecture was born when OMB started collecting and categorizing data from agencies to find redundancies, said Richard Burk, the former chief architect at the Office of Management and Budget.

With OMB reporting mandates and the broad methodology framework, some agencies began developing their own segment architectures, Burk said.

About a year ago, the team was formed to standardize all the segment architecture efforts developed at various agencies.

“We drew together all the principles and picked all the best ideas and assembled this methodology,” Burk said.“That’s what the FSAM does, it makes it a very step-by-step, almost cookbook process for developing segment architectures which really is a substantial portion of an enterprise architecture,” he said.

The methodology is designed to increase the potential for reuse and collaboration on segment architecture among agencies, said Karen Evans, OMB's administrator for E-Government and information technology.

“The expectation is for agencies to come together, with encouragement from OMB, and collaborate on segment architectures where they have shared mission, [such as] counterterrorism or health information sharing,” Evans said.

“The team produced templates and tips for each step, as well as identifying how the identified products supported capital planning, solution architecture, IT governance, and security processes,” Evans said.

The new methodology report explains that enterprise architecture is not solely an IT issue, Burk said.

“The real drive for this was to try and get the architects out of their offices and talking to the business side of the house, that was the whole genesis of the idea of segment architecture,” he said. “As long as we stayed at the enterprise level we weren’t really bringing much value to the departments in terms of their core mission, and it could easily be ignored by the business areas.”

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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