OMB wants EAs integrated

Federal Transition Framework to help agencies organize cross-agency initiatives

In the Works

April 20: Comments due to OMB on Version 0.5 of the Federal Transition Framework

May 1: OMB plans to release Version 0.5 of the FTF

July 1: Draft FTF Catalog developed

Aug. 1: Comments due to OMB

Sept. 1: New FTF released on and new versions of FEA Reference models, EA Assessment Framework and LOB concept of operations released.

OMB's Richard Burk says IPv6 was a tryout and that OMB plans to expand the approach to other cross-agency initiatives.

Rick Steele

Agencies are drowning in the alphabet soup of cross-agency initiatives'from IPv6 to HSPD-12 to LOBs to e-government'trying to figure out how they fit in with their overall missions.

For the past four years, the Office of Management and Budget has pushed and prodded CIOs and their staffs to complete their enterprise architectures to show how their systems fit together, what technologies are being used and how the agency plans to improve their missions using new technology.

But somewhere amid the flood of administration mandates, the ability to combine them into their EAs either was lost or just didn't develop.

To solve the problem, OMB's Federal Enterprise Architecture Program Management Office for the first time asked agencies to submit their transition plans for one cross-agency initiative'the move to IP version 6'with their latest EA transition plan. Agencies submitted their latest versions of their modernization blueprints Feb. 28 and OMB finished evaluating them under assessment Version 2.0 March 31.

'Instead of doing them as one-offs, agencies incorporated the IPv6 transition plans into the plans they were already developing,' said Richard Burk, OMB's chief architect, at an EA conference in Washington earlier this month sponsored by the Digital Government Institute. 'This was very successful. Agencies just did one strategy in multiple parts. You can make sure people are talking and understanding what is going on. We want to reduce the burden on the agencies.'

Burk said IPv6 was a tryout and OMB plans to expand the approach to other cross-agency initiatives.

New framework

His office, along with the Chief Architects Forum and the CIO Council's Architecture and Infrastructure Committee, also are developing a Federal Transition Framework to quicken the pace of adopting the cross-agency projects, including IPv6, Homeland Security President Directive-12 and the Lines of Business consolidation initiatives.

While Burk said the framework has not been fully vetted inside OMB or among agency leaders, he did outline a pretty clear direction, including a proposed timeline (see chart), for the chief architects at their recent meeting.

The document will include three parts: a usage guide, a catalog and a metamodel reference.

The usage guide will include information on how to use the framework. The catalog will match cross-agency initiatives'initially IPv6, IT Infrastructure LOB and E-Authentication'to the FEA reference models. And the metamodel reference will be a technical reference for architects and provide information on the internal structure of the framework.

The goal is for a simple structure to organize and publish existing information to:

  • Increase the alignment of agency EAs with federal IT policy
  • Increase sharing and reuse of business processes, components and technology standards
  • Increase collaboration through communities of practice.
    Burk said that, through the framework, agencies will have a better idea of how all the cross-agency initiatives fit together through their architecture.

'There's a lot of stuff coming at [the agencies],' said Linda Burek, lead architect and IT transformation program manager at the Food and Drug Administration.

'In our agency, the EA program isn't implementing some of that stuff, so there's probably some value in trying to find a way to pull all that together,' she said. 'If the EA program can do that, that would be a good thing. To me, the jury is still out on whether that can work, but I think it's a good idea to give it a try.'

Lisa Westerback, the Commerce Department's director of the Office of IT Planning and Policy, said the new approach is a big change for how agencies plan HSPD-12 or IPv6 into the overall architecture. 'To build it conceptually in the EA I don't think is difficult; getting there operationally is going to be challenging,' she said.

OMB is moving to the Federal Transition Framework just as agencies seem to be moving their architectures out of the IT shop and into the business area. In OMB's latest assessments, Burk said 80 percent met all the criteria to receive a green under the President's Management Agenda.

Agencies were rated on a scale of 5 in three areas: Completion (an overall score of 3.3), Use (3.2) and Results (2.9).

Burk would not say how specific agencies scored, except to say the departments of Education, Housing and Urban Development, Interior and Labor ranked among the highest in the three categories OMB graded agencies'completion, use and results.

GCN staff writer Robert Thormeyer contributed to this story.


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