DOD is out to sell Congress on its business architecture

The Defense Department plans to give Congress evidence, rather than just promises, that it is improving its business systems.

DOD's Business Management Modernization Program office plans to unveil Version 3.0 of its business enterprise architecture by Sept. 30, in compliance with the National Defense Authorization Act of 2005.

The BEA is expected to include a transition plan for six Defense agencies: the departments of the Army, Navy and Air Force; the Defense Logistics Agency; Defense Finance and Accounting Service; and Transportation Command. It also will outline a new process for senior Defense officials to evaluate IT systems for compliance with the architecture and include a plan to centralize funding for DOD-level systems.

'Business architecture efforts in DOD have lacked context in terms of outcomes,' said Paul A. Brinkley, deputy Defense undersecretary for business transformation. 'Within DOD, much of the energy of BMMP was focused on architecture. One of the challenges we're trying to do in DOD is get people to talk about buildings and not architectures.'

Questions on results

Pentagon officials say the department has spent more than $300 million on the BMMP effort, but lawmakers have questioned what DOD got for all that money.

DOD is under pressure from the Hill after lawmakers included a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2005 that DOD provide its latest BEA version by Sept. 30.

Starting Oct. 1, senior Defense leaders could be held in violation of Title 31 of the Antideficiency Act and face jail time and fines if they fail to review all business projects worth more than $1 million to make sure agency initiatives are aligned with the BEA.

Brinkley said he has seen a 'lack of balance between business architectures that are developed and those that are implemented. There is relatively little successful implementation occurring.'

The new version of the BEA will set data standards, financial accounting structures and business rules with corresponding implementation schedules which can be spread over six, 12 or 18 months, Brinkley said at a keynote luncheon address last week during the E-Gov Institute's 5th Enterprise Architecture Conference in Washington.

'It creates a baseline of new thinking for how we're going to approach business transformation in the department,' Brinkley said.

IBM Corp. continues to develop the BEA architecture under a $100 million contract awarded in 2002. But Brinkley said his office is keeping a careful eye on IBM's delivery on upcoming task orders. He did stress, though, that the company's work on the latest version has been good.

Defense officials also will tell Congress about its new investment review process, in which Gordon England, deputy secretary of Defense, reviews Defense systems on a monthly basis for compliance with the business architecture.

DOD has 4,700 business systems across five key mission areas, including databases that handle accounting, logistics and personnel functions.

This summer, the Government Accountability Office found re- dundant systems, little standardization, manual data entry into multiple systems and a lack of involvement by senior management, and concluded that the DOD BEA is 'incomplete, inconsistent and not integrated and, thus, has limited utility.'

No senior-level interest

Brinkley said this lack of involvement reflects the fact that the department still has not delivered value for its architecture through improved business processes.

'Senior management in any organization is never going to be excited about the blueprint,' he said. 'People care about what you're trying to build.'

Since the 1960s, DOD has tried to transform its business processes, Brinkley said. The reason the department will succeed this time is because it has to, he added.

'The nature of warfighting today is forcing the breakdown of individual silos of information. The warfighters can't live and execute [their] mission anymore if we're not interoperable,' Brinkley said. 'The department simply has to do it, and in the past we didn't.'

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