CIO Council team offers architecture expertise

The group wants to help agencies mesh their plans with OMB's, Mike Tiemann says.

With the Office of Management and Budget warning agencies that it will terminate IT projects that fail to fit in to a governmentwide enterprise architecture, a CIO Council working group is offering agencies assistance.

The Federal Enterprise Architecture Working Group is putting the final touches on the second version of the Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework to help agencies mesh IT investments with systems blueprints.

"OMB has made it clear that at some point they will lose patience with agencies if they don't see how IT investments align with agency architectures," said Mike Tiemann, co-chairman of the working group. "The revised framework will give agencies a good starting point to lay the foundation for where they are going."

A draft of the new version should be ready by Sept. 30, said Tiemann, enterprise information architect at the Energy Department.

Tiemann shares oversight of the working group with the General Services Administration's Lew Sanford. He is spearheading the effort to update the federal enterprise framework.

OMB has said it will use its authorities under the Clinger-Cohen Act to curb projects that do not mesh with the architecture.

Tiemann said OMB often used this approach when reviewing agencies' year 2000 preparations and, to a lesser extent, fiscal 2003 budget submissions.

In the meantime, the working group is applying the finishing touches to its recommendations of how agencies can implement the
e-government architecture.

"The guidance is technology-focused," he said. "The purpose is to set common reference models so when agency managers talk about a Web portal, the definitions and descriptions are clearly understood and common for all agencies."

Tiemann said the next version of the document also will talk about specific relationships between components such as transaction services and database management.

There will be two components of the e-government guidance, he said. A theoretical section will list conceptual models, show how technology is involved and detail how components interact. A practical section will present OMB's component architecture, infrastructure templates and examples of how agencies define and implement architectures, Tiemann said.

The guidance will include a set of standards for the use of tools such as the Extensible Markup Language and Simple Object Access Protocol and may set standards for databases, front-end and back-end support and user interfaces, Tiemann said.

"The guidance speaks to the 24 e-government initiatives as well as other e-government projects within agencies," he said. "We are trying to bridge the previous architecture framework with the e-government projects."

One more thing

The working group had hoped to release the guide sooner than early fall, but it wanted to include OMB's component-based architecture, Tiemann said.

Agencies needed an updated version of the enterprise architecture framework because federal officials must incorporate new items such as Section 508 accessibility standards, security, privacy and records management, Tiemann said.

"We recognized the growth and changes of the framework," he said. "We hope to include all of these issues in the federal architecture framework diagram so we can describe them in a graphical context."

The working group hopes the model makes it easier for agencies to understand how security, 508 standards and the other topics fit into the various layers of a systems architecture, Tiemann said.

The working group is emphasizing revisions to the security aspects of the model.

"We know security is driven by the business architecture layer because there are specific drivers for how much security you need," he said. "We need to draw people's attention [to the fact] that security is part of all layers. It is only effectively done when security is built in as a part of the entire process, not developed separately."

The group also is working with the Joint Financial Management Improvement Program, revising the financial systems architecture for the first time since 1995 to meet with the specifications of the enterprise blueprint.

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