GSA crafts EA through modeling

Enterprise architecture, the GSA way

Once finished, the agency will view its business processes across nine lines of business:

  • Acquisition

  • Finance

  • Human resources

  • IT

  • Marketing

  • Policy

  • Federal Technology Service

  • Federal Supply Service

  • Public Buildings Service

Who's in charge

Michael Carleton

CIO


Chris Fornecker

Chief technology officer


George Thomas

Chief architect


Casey Coleman

CIO, Federal Technology Service


Elizabeth DelNegro

Acting CIO, Federal Supply Service


Kay McNew

CIO, Public Buildings Service

Top contractors

(Fiscal 2003, includes agencies' use of GSA Buys)
Northrop Grumman Corp.

$402 million


Science Applications International Corp.

$345 million


Computer Sciences Corp.

$266 million


Anteon Corp.

$238 million


Dell Inc.

$156 million


Affiliated Computer Services Inc.

$113 million


Titan Corp.

$107 million


Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.

$104 million


CACI International Inc.

$102 million


EDS Corp.

$98 million


Total

$1.9 billion

IT spending rising sharply

Chris Fornecker, the agency's CTO sought to do more than satisfy OMB's enterprise architecture requirements with the One GSA EA.

Rick Steele

It would have been easy for Chris Fornecker, the General Services Administration's chief technology officer, to get the Office of Management and Budget off his back.

He could simply have developed an enterprise architecture that met the administration's requirements and earned GSA a green mark on the President's Management Agenda scorecard.

But Fornecker sought to do more than merely satisfy the requirements. Instead, he developed the concept of One GSA Enterprise Architecture, which when finished in April will change the way the agency manages its nine lines of business. The new architecture will not only meet the PMA's requirements but will give GSA a more useful, flexible EA.

Making EA meaningful

'It is not hard to generate something that is acceptable to OMB,' Fornecker said. 'But it would not be useful for the business lines. I resisted the temptation to get them off my back' and instead found a way to do EA that is meaningful for GSA.

Fornecker said he wanted to go beyond generating paper and documenting unstructured data, as the agency's past EA efforts did. Instead, GSA used the Model-Driven Architecture approach to assess its current architecture, its ultimate EA goal and the plan to get from one to the other.

MDA separates the business or application process from the underlying technology, according to the Object Management Group Inc. of Needham, Mass., a nonprofit consortium that produces and maintains computer specifications for interoperable enterprise applications.

This approach is based on open standards and is not dependent on any specific technology platform, using standards such as Unified Modeling Language, Extensible Markup Language Metadata Interchange and Common Warehouse Metamodel.

'This methodology would allow us to more quickly implement changes in our business processes,' Fornecker said. 'We want to put the business processes in the model so their descriptions have meaning and the information that flows between them is defined.'

Fornecker expects GSA to move to green from yellow under the E-Government portion of the PMA scorecard by next summer.

'We will go to OMB and show them our products and see what happens,' he said. 'We think using the MDA methodology will make it easier for other agencies to repeat our processes.'

Before moving to the MDA approach, Fornecker said, each office of GSA developed its own EA using different methodologies. Most of the blueprints were limited to technology standards, not business and data models.

While Fornecker doesn't expect to finish assessing the current architecture, the target blueprint and the transition plan for another six months, his team, including prime contractor LMI of McLean, Va., and subcontractors Data Access Technologies of Miami and Unisys Corp., is validating parts of the modernization blueprint.

'Business line experts will be able to talk about delivering services to the customer, no matter what business line they are in,' Fornecker said. 'We will be able to identify the processes that make sense to share services.'

GCN associate editor Joab Jackson contributed to this story.

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