Mission takes priority over process, TSA official says

Mission takes priority over process, TSA official says

Pushing projects through to completion requires tenacity, says Chris Allen, chief IT officer at the Transportation Security Administration.

'Unless you show some tenacity in cutting through the bureaucracy,' projects won't succeed, he said yesterday. 'You have to work the phones and work fast.'

When it comes to enterprise architectures, TSA like other agencies wants to do the right thing, Allen said at the Enterprise Architecture 2003 conference sponsored in Washington by GCN and the Digital Government Institute of Bethesda, Md.

'But nothing is going to stop the mission,' he said. 'We can't say, a certain number of planes were destroyed because we couldn't do a system development lifecycle model'that's not acceptable.'

TSA has drafted an enterprise architecture that includes a capital planning and investment control process, current and target architectures, a transition plan and other elements required by OMB circulars A-130 and A-11, Allen said. The architecture's lifecycle model supports project management in part by defining roles and assigning responsibilities, he said.

TSA uses an enterprise architecture tool called the Enterprise Architecture Management System to track development of the architecture in daily updates. Project and program managers have access to EAMS, Allen said.

Allen emphasized that successful projects must not only mesh with the architecture but also gain full support of the TSA staff. 'When you go to a project manager and say, 'How am I going to get this done,' you have to describe to them the maze they have to go through and describe how this activity affects the [counterterrorism] mission,' Allen said. 'You have to bring the mission home to roost with the person who is on the front line.'

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