DOD's architecture work finally gets down to business

GAO sees 'important progress' on Version 3.0 of the business architecture, with a few caveats <br>

'The Hill ratcheted up the demands placed on DOD to try to force and effect change. The 2005 legislation got people's attention and got some results.'

' GAO's Randolph Hite

Rick Steele

The Defense Department has made more progress since the spring than it ever has on improving the management of its business systems.

'If you look at what they have done in the last six to eight months, they are on the right track,' said Randolph Hite, the Government Accountability Office's director of IT architecture and system issues. 'They have a foundation that heretofore they never had.'

DOD's recent progress on its Business Systems Modernization Program is described in GAO's review of Version 3.0 of the Business Architecture and Transition Plan.

According to the recent GAO report, DOD has met or partially met five of six congressional mandates to improve its business systems modernization efforts.

GAO last month found that Version 3.0 of DOD's business architecture, which it sent to Congress Sept. 30, represents 'important progress' but has yet to satisfy one key requirement: that the Defense Business Systems Management Committee approves all investments exceeding $1 million.

Approval for investments

Hite said that shortcoming was expected.

'There wasn't a date by which they had to do this,' he said. 'They just have to have the investments approved before the funds are obligated.'

The bigger challenge for DOD, Hite said, is whether the department can identify all projects valued at more than $1 million.

The 2005 National Defense Authorization Act requires DOD to improve the management of its business systems modernization efforts.

After spending more than $300 million on the Business Management Modernization Program, Congress wanted tighter control and more oversight of what DOD is getting for its money.

The department uses more than 4,200 business systems, and has spent about $13.3 billion in fiscal 2005 for operations, maintenance and modernization work on those applications, GAO found.

Add 'content and scope'

GAO auditors found the department needed to add 'content and scope' to its architecture and transition plan, and ensure that corporate investment management structures and processes are effectively implemented and full budgetary disclosure occurs.

'The Hill ratcheted up the demands placed on DOD to try to force and effect change,' Hite said. 'The 2005 legislation got people's attention and got some results.'

Auditors did find that DOD met one requirement fully: the delegation of responsibility for business systems to a specific office within the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Late last month, DOD established a new office to manage the process.

Need more on four

The four mandates that DOD partially met were:
  • Developing a business architecture plan. GAO found that DOD needs to identify an 'as is' architecture in addition to a 'to be' architecture.

  • Developing a transition plan for implementing the architecture. Auditors found a lack of clear integration between the architecture and transition plan.

  • Identifying each business system for which funding is proposed in fiscal 2006 and beyond, and identifying the funds for current services and for the modernization of those services.

  • Establishing an investment review process at each approval authority by March 15, 2005.

'This progress provides a foundation upon which to build,' the GAO report said. 'However, much more work remains to be accomplished to fully satisfy the act and address the department's IT management weaknesses, particularly with regard to sufficiently developing the EA [enterprise architecture] and transition plan and ensuring that investment review and approval processes are institutionally implemented.'

Points of contentionM

DOD disagreed with two of GAO's points.

First, Defense officials said developing a 'comprehensive' as-is architecture would not be an 'effective use of time and resources.' DOD would rather perform the EA analysis with its business process review.

DOD also said GAO misunderstood the integration between the EA and transition plan.

DOD must resubmit a new architecture and transition plan by March 30, which GAO will review by the end of May. Congress will require Defense to do this for at least the next three years, Hite said.

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