Guidelines for CIOs put practical spin on IT reforms

Guidelines for CIOs put practical spin on IT reforms


Program managers now have a practical guide to help them design an enterprise architecture that won't run away with the bank.

The Architecture Alignment and Assessment Guide, developed by the Federal Architecture Working Group of the Chief Information Officers Council, should become a well-worn resource, said group chairman Rob Thomas II, director of technology and architecture for the Customs Service.

Planning pays off
There are several benefits to planning and developing an enterprise architecture to ensure effective capital planning practices, Rob Thomas II said. The architecture:

' Helps capture facts in an understandable manner to enable better decision-making.

' Improves communication between the information technology organization and business units.

' Reduces the risk of building systems, or acquiring and implementing technologies that do not meet needs.

' Eliminates false starts and wasted funding.

' Provides a decision support tool for the capital planning process.

The guide is actually the second resource published by the group, Thomas said. Previously, the group published The Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework, and A Practical Guide to Federal Enterprise Architecture is in production.

The framework guide, published in December 1999, covers the end-to-end process needed to initiate, implement and sustain an enterprise architecture program. It describes the necessary roles and associated responsibilities for success, and gives definitions of common terms, he said.

Thomas is also co-chairman of the Treasury Architecture Working Group.

The Information Technology Management Reform Act of 1996, or Clinger-Cohen Act, was clear about how federal agencies should manage enterprise architecture and capital planning, Thomas said. 'But the problem was that after Clinger-Cohen was passed there was no guidance as to how to carry it out,' he said.

Colleen Coggins, lead architect at the Bureau of Land Management, said the publications fill a void. They provide guidance for disciplined enterprise architecture planning that is applicable across the federal government, she said.

The three documents build on each other, Coggins said.

The Architecture Alignment and Assessment Guide focuses on integrating the enterprise architecture, and the capital planning and investment control process, she said.

The guide will fill the need for chief information officers to learn how to plan enterprise architecture, the Customs Service's Rob Thomas says.

'The successful integration is the critical step in the larger enterprise strategic planning process that links the definition of our requirements to the budget process,' she said. 'Without linking the two together there really is no way to justify the expenditure of funds.'

After the reform act passed there were no classes scheduled to teach chief information officers how to plan enterprise architecture for their agencies, Thomas said.

'And looking at the agencies, it was clear that we were not doing a good job governmentwide,' he said.

The publications, available at, and in hard copy from the CIO Council, fulfill a major goal of the act, Thomas said.

'This trifecta will change more in a revolutionary manner the way people are doing enterprise architecture,' Thomas said.

Coggins said she finds the publications' specific examples extremely useful.


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