OMB streamlines framework for cross-agency initiatives

The Office of Management and Budget is trying to develop a standard way of describing cross-agency initiatives and make the sharing of that information easier.

OMB officials are asking agencies beginning with the fiscal 2009 budget submission to adhere to a more structured way of characterizing the governmentwide projects that can be mapped to the Federal Enterprise Architecture Reference models.

In the Federal Transition Framework OMB released publicly yesterday, OMB's enterprise architecture program management office provided agencies with a three-part guide to becoming more consistent and making sharing easier.

'I think the major benefit of it is that it will provide an authoritative catalog of everything that is going on with cross-agency initiatives,' said John Sullivan, the Environmental Protection Agency's chief architect. There was nowhere to go for information on these initiatives. 'Now you will have that.'

The three parts of the FTF are a usage guide, a catalog and a metamodel reference guide.

The goal of the guide is to:
  • Increase agency awareness and participation in cross-agency initiatives
  • Increase the alignment of agency EAs with federal IT policy decisions and other formal guidance
  • Increase the sharing and reuse of common cross-agency business processes, service components and technology standards
  • Increase collaboration through agency participation in cross-agency communities of practice.

'The FTF is a catalog of architectural information and implementation guidance for cross-agency initiatives using a simple, familiar structure. '' wrote Karen Evans, OMB's administrator for e-government and IT in a memo accompanying the FTF. 'The FTF is a single source for clear and consistent information describing governmentwide IT policy objectives and cross-agency initiatives. ''

In the usage guide, OMB outlines four scenarios for incorporating cross-agency initiatives into agency EAs; self assessing agency EA alignment with cross-agency initiatives; aligning agency budget submissions with cross-agency initiatives; and aligning agency IT programs with cross-agency initiatives.

Each scenario is documented using a standard outline:
  • That breaks down who the stakeholders are
  • The assumptions that must be made for the scenario to be true
  • A list of steps needed to create or update the work products such as an EA transition plan
  • The actual work products that will be used in the scenario
  • OMB's examination of the work products
  • The results generated by successfully executing the scenario.

'Use of a common structure enhances the integrity of architectural work products and increases the rate of adoption by helping to deliver complete and consistent information,' the FTF usage guide said.

The catalog breaks down three cross-agency projects'the move to Internet Protocol version 6, E-Authentication and the IT infrastructure Line of Business Consolidation initiative'in order for agencies to more easily find information about these initiatives.

'The catalog is designed to be incorporated into the agency target architecture and transition strategies,' the document said.

Each initiative is described in eight sections including the five FEA reference layers, communities of interest participating in the project and the OMB guidance that agencies must follow.

Finally, the metamodel document defines the information in six areas to be included in the FTF. The areas include the initiative, the strategy and performance, the business line, the data, the service components and the technology standards and products used in the project.

'[T]he FTF's primary focus is in organizing elements of cross-agency initiatives into a single, consistent and reusable architectural framework,' the document said.

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