DOD unveils latest enterprise transition plan

The Defense Department has unveiled to Congress Version 4.0 of its business enterprise architecture and its latest enterprise transition plan, which adds the Military Health System and a business framework that sets common business improvement areas to help tie together systems initiatives across the department.

Paul Brinkley, co-director of the Business Transformation Agency, said the latest architecture further refines and sets standards for the six business enterprise priorities in the department, including personnel, acquisition, materiel and financial visibility as well as common supplier engagement and real property accountability. But Brinkley and Tom Modly, the other agency co-director, warned that the BEA would eventually come out yearly, instead of bi-annually, to limit the amount of new content and complications facing service and agency components.

"Every time you strike a new BEA, you cause ripple effects with all these other programs that have to comply," Modly said yesterday during a news briefing. "They're trying to march towards milestones, but if you add levels of complexity by making the BEA more complex, it makes it that much more difficult for them to achieve what they need to achieve. You have to give these programs the time to understand and to catch up with what it is you're imposing on them from the enterprise level."

Just providing the automated tool for agencies to figure out whether or not they are in compliance with the architecture was one of BTA's major accomplishments in the past year, Modly said.

"What we have done in the last year that I think is probably the most valuable thing with architecture is provide the programs with the tools to actually go in and interpret what's in the architecture. This allows the program to go in and basically query this automated compliance architecture tool," he said. "The architectural documents are very, very complicated documents and we're mandated by law to ensure these programs comply with that, but we needed to provide them with the tools to help them query and understand whether or not they actually are in compliance so that's probably the biggest development in architecture in the last year."

The National Defense Authorization Act of 2005 requires the Defense Department to deliver an updated BEA and enterprise transition plan to Congress every six months.

"I think it's been acknowledged now that we have established probably the most credible architecture in the federal government in terms of representing how the enterprise needs to interoperate and work together," Brinkley added. "Architecture is a tool that supports management decision-making. We had to break a culture here that was trying to use architecture to manage. That never works. Our approach is the department has a management structure; it has a management team that makes decisions about what we're going to do in common and what we're not going to do in common. The BEA defines and forces the things the management has decided this is what we're going to do in common."

Version 4.0 features business process model improvements, including a restructuring to reduce data redundancy, usability improvements and the elimination of numerous process modeling standard violations, according to a summary of the release. And the enterprise transition plan, which reads like a business document, increased the number of programs represented from 100 last year to 108 in the most recent document.

Modly said the Military Health System was added to the plan since it's a key transformational area for the department. Another significant addition is the Business Value Added Framework, which forces joint Defense programs to detail how they are impacting a common set of business value-added measures.

"That's helping them think about, hey why am I doing this while I'm also doing it over here in some other program? Why don't I just combine those programs and figure out the best and most useful way to do this as a department of the Navy or Air Force or as an enterprise overall for DOD," Modly explained.

Since last September, BTA has met nearly 90 percent of its enterprise transition plan milestones, Modly said.

In the next year, BTA will spend a lot of time tracking the Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System and a program called the Business Enterprise Information Services. DIMHRS will be implemented in the Army and Air Force in 2008. Next year there are numerous milestones DIMHRS must hit to remain on track for the 2008 implementation, Modly said. The other program, BEIS, also has some key milestones to meet next year and will provide DOD, for the first time ever, with high-level visibility into financial information.

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