Pentagon's BTA defines data elements

As part of its efforts to streamline the Defense Department's business processes, the Pentagon's Business Transformation Agency is standardizing the definitions DOD uses in its financial management, real property, logistics, acquisition and procurement functions, according to BTA Director David Fisher.

The agency expects to finish work on its initial sets of data definitions for DOD's acquisition and procurement activities in fiscal 2008 and has completed the initial definitions for financial management, real property and logistics, Fisher said Tuesday at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association monthly lunch meeting in Arlington, Va.

The agency focuses exclusively on projects that touch on processes used throughout DOD and that ultimately will improve the accuracy, timeliness and reliability of information that DOD provides to its soldiers, Fisher said.

The process of standardizing data definitions starts with DOD's functional undersecretaries and their staffs, who identify specific areas in which standardization will produce benefits across DOD.

The functional community, facilitated by BTA, then creates a draft set of data elements accompanied by draft definitions and business rules and ' in consultation with the DOD communities involved, including representatives from the military branches ' determines what the final data elements and definitions will be, Fisher explained later.

'A draft set of data elements, along with draft definitions and business rules, is created, and then an extensive socialization effort occurs with the broader stakeholder community to include the military department representatives,' Fisher said. 'BTA's role is typically to facilitate that process, but it is the functional community that makes the final determinations on the standards.'

BTA then documents the new standards and incorporates them into DOD's business enterprise architecture, which establishes them as requirements for all DOD agencies. In each functional area, BTA revisits the standard definitions during established review periods to improve on its previous efforts, Fisher said. The agency's Standard Financial Information Structure, for example, has in the last two years published three phases of data elements, supplementing its first and biggest set of standards with two additional sets of data elements.

In areas where BTA has yet to publish its initial data definitions, it finished its first draft of about 100 data elements in the area of procurement in the last two weeks, Fisher said. Its work on standards for acquisition functions are further along and will create standard definitions for perhaps 60 data elements, he said. BTA expects to publish the initial standards for procurement and acquisitions by March 2009, Fisher said.

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