EA payoff expected in 2007 budget plans

'The emphasis has been on getting your pieces in place and following the Federal Enterprise Architecture, but now it is about what we are doing with it.'

' DOT's Darren Ash

Rick Steele

For most agencies, the time is now for their enterprise architectures to pay off.

With EAs nearly four years in the making, the Office of Management and Budget expects agency fiscal 2007 budget submissions to link their IT investments to their modernization blueprints at a level of specificity like never before.

Agencies have been struggling to define and improve their enterprise architectures since the administration started promoting the use of these blueprints to consolidate systems and find opportunities for savings. But the latest assessment, using the Enterprise Architecture Assessment Framework Version 1.5, found that most of the largest 25 agencies have an effective architecture, said Richard Burk, OMB's chief architect.

'Now that they have architectures in place, they need to use them to show results,' he said. 'We are pressing agencies to do just that.'

Burk said most agencies' enterprise architectures scored at least a three out of a five rating on OMB's maturity model. OMB released its Enterprise Architecture Assessment Framework in April 2004 and updated it last April. Burk said Version 2 should be finished by next March.

The Labor Department, one of the agencies that scored well, earned a 3.63 rating by focusing on investment control, said Tom Wiesner, Labor's deputy CIO.

The department established a set of subcommittees that work on enterprise architecture, security, capital planning and investment control, and earned value management with their management and technical review boards.

Called to account

All of this work filters down into Labor's bureaus, where enterprise architecture is a major piece of the 2007 budget process, said Marlene Howze, Labor's enterprise architecture program manager.

'We are now holding [the department's] agencies more accountable by asking them to develop a detailed work breakdown structure to meet their target goals,' she said. 'Previously, we asked for information at a very high level, but now they must demonstrate how the initiative results in cost savings or avoidance or is an opportunity for consolidation.'

Labor requires its bureaus to use a scorecard system'similar to the one OMB uses to grade agencies on their progress in meeting the President's Management Agenda'to track progress.
Howze said the scorecard specifies the metrics of the project, including how it meets cost and schedule goals, and how it benefits the agency's mission.

'We found out that most people in the bureaus didn't understand EA,' Howze said. 'We had to sell it by creating a governance framework by including all the agencies.'

Along with Labor, Burk said the departments of Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, and Interior, and the Environmental Protection Agency did particularly well on their enterprise architectures.

Colleen Coggins, Interior's chief architect, said Interior has a 2-year-old process that requires an investment review board to approve any major IT investment after consulting with the enterprise architecture.

'No system can come in under a business area without explaining first how they fit into the target architecture,' she said.

Agency progress is not surprising, most IT managers said. 'We have spent a fair amount of time working and evaluating agency EAs to make sure they are useful,' Burk said. 'That means we see a connection between the business cases and the EA so we know it is a legitimate investment.'

Darren Ash, acting associate CIO at the Transportation Department, said the push to make the enterprise architecture more tangible is coming from inside his agency as well as from OMB.

'The heart of the conversation is how the EA is tied to investments,' he said at a panel discussion on EA sponsored by the Bethesda, Md., chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association. 'The emphasis has been on getting your pieces in place and following the Federal Enterprise Architecture, but now it is about what we are doing with it.'

Ash said that, because enterprise architectures are maturing, agencies must dig deeper to look at data and component reuse, and the continued integration with budgets.

'We need to expand the conversation beyond the CIOs to the CXOs and budget officers,' he said. 'That is where we need help.'

DOD gets on board

Roy Mabry, Defense Department Office of the CIO senior architect, said DOD, which scored a 3.31, for the first time is aligning its IT investments with mission areas within the department enterprise architecture.

'We changed the process for justifying agency business cases to include the EA in a different way,' he said. 'We need to get value from the EA.'

Mabry added that organizing the IT investments around the mission area enterprise architecture will help executives make decisions about a project's performance, which didn't happen in previous years.

DOD's CIO office also is developing a portfolio management policy that delineates the roles and responsibilities of agency program managers. Mabry said the policy should be released by December.

'Over the next few years, EA's focus needs to be on results,' he said. 'To determine that, we need to measure the value to the enterprise and engage the business owner.'

Burk said now that many agencies have an effective enterprise architecture, they must identify inputs, outputs and outcomes of their systems.

'It is more important now that the investment relates to the agency's EA instead of the FEA,' Burk said. 'Early on ... we asked them how it related to the FEA. But now that is secondary because the [agency] EAs have matured.'

Reader Comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above