OMB revises architecture models

The end goal of the architecture efforts is better service to the public, OMB's Norman Lorentz says.

Henrik G. DeGyor

The Bush administration has penned a plan to fundamentally change the way agencies use systems to meet their missions, federal IT and industry executives say.

The recently released second version of the Federal Enterprise Architecture's Business Reference Model 'reshapes the way agencies think about the business they do,' said Mark Day, deputy CIO of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Day predicted that the architecture model will end 'turf wars within and between agencies because we are slowly realizing if we don't get our act together, someone else will take our work, such as managing systems.'

The first version of the model was far simpler. In the latest version, the FEA Program Management Office identified four business areas, 39 lines of business and 153 functions within those lines of business to cover the work of the government's agencies.

Other agency IT managers and private industry observers said the latest version will significantly improve agencies' understanding of their relationships to one another'unlike any other document produced by the government in the last 20 years.

'The concept of reference models like this is very sound,' said John Weiler, executive director and chief technology officer for the nonprofit Interoperability Clearinghouse of Alexandria, Va. 'It is a different tack than what the government has done historically.'

The approach reflects an industrylike perspective, looking at outcomes and performance rather than processes, he said.

The Office of Management and Budget this month released the revised Business Reference Model along with the Service Component Reference and Technical Reference models.

The Bush administration expects agencies to use the models to find opportunities for collaboration, said Norman Lorentz, OMB's chief technology officer.

'The end result of this effort is a more effective application of IT resources to meet the needs of the citizen,' Lorentz said.

Eliminate redundancy

OMB wants agencies to amass data for the models when preparing their fiscal 2005 budget requests, specifically looking for ways to eliminate redundant systems and applications across agencies, he said. OMB budget analysts will then in turn be looking for missed collaborative opportunities, Lorentz said.

To make this possible requires an IT tool. Booz Allen Hamilton of McLean, Va., is adapting a relational database it originally built for the Health and Human Services Department.

Agencies will enter their architecture data into the reference models through this online tool, the Federal Enterprise Architecture Management System. OMB expects to launch FEAMS this month, Lorentz said. FEAMS will create a way for agencies to populate the models and the architecture blueprint with data, he said.

John Gilligan, Air Force CIO and co-chairman of the CIO Council's Enterprise Architecture and Infrastructure Committee, explained the process.

'After we align our programs with the BRM, we will drill down into a larger number of areas to see where collaboration opportunities exist,' he said.

Meanwhile, the long-awaited Service Component Model classifies components of software applications according to the business processes and customer services that they support. It categorizes application components seven ways: customer service, process automation, business management, digital assets, business analytics, back-office services and cross-functional support services.

The Technical Reference Model lays out core standards and specifications for security, data interchange, data types, business logic and interoperability.

Lorentz said OMB plans to release the Performance Reference Model by the end of the month. The model will detail metrics agencies can use to measure performance.

That will leave just one further model, the Data Reference Model, which will detail systems interactions at the data exchange level. Though OMB has set no timetable, the goal is to release it before year's end.

GCN staff writer Patricia Daukantas contributed to this story.

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