Service-oriented components advance transformation

The government's vision for IT architecture that focuses more on citizen services than agency functions will become slightly clearer next week with the release of two new descriptive service components, said Dick Burk, the government's chief architect.

According to Burk, CORE.gov'the government's Component Organization and Registration Environment repository for shared business processes and technical components'is set to release the first certified implementation of an e-authentication component at the end of this month.

The Housing and Urban Development Department earlier this week launched one of the first service components, designed to help facilitate housing-related financial documentation, said HUD CIO Lisa Schlosser.

The component will help authorized lenders endorse Federal Housing Authority mortgage loans for insurance without a pre-endorsement review by HUD. The companies will send electronic case binders to HUD only when requested. This will reduce processing time by 33 percent and decrease direct-insuring expenses by as much as 25 percent, HUD officials said.

Service-oriented architecture doesn't just benefit citizens, said Schlosser. It also helps reduce expenses. She estimated that a Web-based database application used by federal loan applicants that is shared by HUD, the Veterans Affairs and Education departments has saved taxpayers more than $500 million in reduced loan losses.

Burk and Schlosser cited the components during an industry forum in Washington last week as examples of broader efforts by government IT officials to transform federal enterprise architecture into more of a service-oriented architecture model.

Progress has not been easy, Burk conceded. Budget appropriations remain wrapped around agency programs, reinforcing the old model each year instead of a model supporting common cross-agency services to the public. But agencies are making headway, he said, in adapting common service components into their systems.

Representing one example of that progress was co-panelist Bob Haycock, CIO of Interior's National Business Center and former Office of Management and Budget chief architect. NBC has been recognized as a center of excellence for its financial management and human resources Lines of Business systems. Haycock stressed the importance of developing federal architecture that can evolve from one that relies on tightly coupled applications to a more flexible and scalable infrastructure, capable of integrating common commercial service components that work across agencies.

About the Author

Wyatt Kash served as chief editor of GCN (October 2004 to August 2010) and also of Defense Systems (January 2009 to August 2010). He currently serves as Content Director and Editor at Large of 1105 Media.

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