GAO says Defense comes up short on its EA efforts

'Until the department develops an approved, well-defined architecture ... it remains at risk.'

'GAO's Randolph Hite

Rick Steele

The Defense Department has invested nearly four years and $318 million into developing a business enterprise architecture, yet according to a recent Government Accountability Office report, the department has very little to show for its efforts.

In the report, Randolph Hite, GAO's director of IT architecture and systems issues, said DOD's current enterprise architecture is 'incomplete, inconsistent and not integrated and, thus, has limited utility.'

Risk to business

The Defense Department has 4,700 business systems, including databases that handle accounting, logistics and personnel functions. GAO found redundant systems, little standardization and manual data entry into multiple systems.

'Until the department develops an approved, well-defined architecture that includes a clear purpose and scope and integrated products, it remains at risk of not achieving its intended business modernization goals,' Hite said in the report.

In the report (www.gcn.com, GCN.com/469), he said Defense has failed to incorporate GAO recommendations made over the past several years. Some of those recommendations include:
  • Establishing an effective governance strategy

  • Developing program plans that explicitly identify measurable goals and outcomes to be achieved

  • Performing effective configuration management

  • Developing a well-defined architecture that describes the 'as is' business and technology environments, and a transition plan.

Since 1995, GAO has come down hard on DOD's efforts to update its business systems. Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld officially established the Business Management Modernization Plan in July 2001.

'Despite six [Business Enterprise Architecture] releases and two updates, DOD still does not have a version of an enterprise architecture that can be considered well defined,' the report said.

In January, GAO designated DOD's business systems modernization program a high-risk area for the 10th consecutive year.

In the recent report, GAO recommended that the Defense secretary direct the deputy secretary of Defense, as chair of the Defense Business Systems Management Committee, to:
  • Immediately disclose the state of its BEA program to DOD's congressional authorization and appropriations committees

  • Ensure each of GAO's prior recommendations relating to BEA management is reflected in DOD's plans

  • Assess workforce knowledge and skill needs and capabilities while identifying gaps and filling those gaps.

Defense agreed with GAO's three recommendations.

Coming to closure

The BMMP, according to Paul Brinkley, special assistant for business transformation, and Thomas Modly, deputy undersecretary of Defense for financial management, has been restructured to accelerate transformation, strengthen oversight and expand senior leadership involvement.

'The DBSMC leadership is committed to implementing GAO recommendations. BMMP staff continues to meet with GAO staff to bring each recommendation to closure,' Defense officials said in their response.

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