OMB model gives agencies a reference point on IT projects

OMB has mapped out details on current IT investments, OMB's Norman Lorentz says.

The Office of Management and Budget expects agencies to conduct some research before investing in new IT. And the starting point should be the business reference model OMB released last week.

The model--along with the business cases OMB requires agencies to submit that detail their IT projects--helps agencies to see the exact services other departments provide and where opportunities lie to share IT investments or technology.

"We have mapped out what we know are the current major IT investments," said Norman Lorentz, OMB's chief technology officer. "Agencies should begin to see how their business cases align with the business reference model and look for cross-agency investment opportunities."

Agencies can access one another's business cases by sending a request to OMB for printed versions. By fall, OMB wants to make the cases available through a secure Web site.

OMB posted the latest version of the e-government business reference model on its new Federal Enterprise Architecture Program Management Office Web site at

Mark Forman, OMB's associate director for IT and e-government, called the business reference model "a quantum leap for the federal government."

OMB will release other models later this fall, including performance, data, application capabilities and technical reference models.

The business reference document outlined the business lines, or chief missions, that agencies engage in and how each line relates to programs at other agencies. It identified 35 external and internal lines of business and 136 subfunctions within those 35 lines.

All of the functions fall into three main business areas, OMB said. One goal of a governmentwide enterprise architecture is to eliminate redundancy in agencies' functions.

The three main business lines are citizen services, delivery services support, and internal operations and infrastructure. Citizen service business lines include asset management, law enforcement, mail delivery, public health, social services and transportation.

Strictly business

"OMB can now work hand-in-hand with agency officials to look strategically at federal business operations and understand the gaps, overlaps and opportunities," Forman said. "The BRM provides OMB and the agencies with an invaluable new tool for improving the business of government."

Debra Stouffer, chief technology officer for the Environmental Protection Agency, worked on the first version of the model that was sent to agencies when she was on a 90-day detail with OMB. She said the document will serve two purposes as agencies fine-tune their budgets for fiscal 2003 and 2004.

"It gives people at the agency level an idea of who is doing similar types of activities and where there are areas for collaboration when submitting business cases for the 2004 budget," she said. "It also lets OMB see immediately where there are areas for partnering in 2003."

Most agencies are in the final stages of putting together 2004 budget requests, so this comes at a good time, Stouffer said.

Last month, OMB updated Circular A-11, which provides agencies with direction on how to prepare business cases. The document encouraged submission of joint business cases that cross lines of business.
Bob Haycock, OMB's chief architect, said the business reference model will be most useful for agencies as they begin work on their fiscal 2005 budget requests for OMB.

"We hope to have the other reference models done at least to some extent when agencies begin the next budget process, so we are providing a usable architecture," he said.

Haycock said OMB is busy populating the capability reference and technical reference models. He said agencies should have the first drafts in the "next couple of months."

What's available

The capability document will supply details on IT system functions that operate throughout and across agencies, and it will recommend applications that support the reuse of business components and services across agencies.

The technical model will outline in a hierarchical diagram how technologies support applications delivery. It will outline the technical elements that support a component-based architecture.
OMB recently began work on the performance reference model and is in the discussion stage on the data reference model.

"Agencies will begin to see linkages between the technology in place and the technology we need to move toward for specific initiatives and business lines," Haycock said.

"The whole purpose is to focus on how the citizen sees government and see how technology plays a significant role in delivering those services."

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