DOD Business Systems Modernization:

Military Departments Need to Strengthen Management of Enterprise Architecture Programs

GAO-08-519: Published: May 12, 2008. Publicly Released: May 12, 2008.

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In 1995, GAO designated Department of Defense (DOD) business systems modernization as a high-risk program, and the program remains on the high-risk list today. A key to successful systems modernization is having and using an enterprise architecture as an authoritative frame of reference, or blueprint, for system investment decisions. To assist DOD in modernizing its business systems, Congress passed legislation consistent with prior GAO recommendations for DOD to develop and implement a business enterprise architecture (BEA). In response, DOD developed a corporate BEA that it intends to federate, or extend, to the military departments and defense agencies. To support GAO's legislative mandate to review DOD's BEA, GAO evaluated the status of the Air Force, Navy, and Army architecture programs. To accomplish this, GAO used its Enterprise Architecture Management Maturity Framework and associated evaluation method.

The enterprise architecture programs within the Departments of the Air Force, Navy, and Army have yet to advance to a level that can be considered fully mature. Specifically, all three departments are at the initial stage of GAO's architecture maturity framework. This means that they have not fully satisfied all the core elements associated with the framework's second stage (establishing the management foundation for developing, maintaining, and using the architecture) or any of the framework's higher stages: Stage 3 (developing the architecture), Stage 4 (completing the architecture), and Stage 5 (leveraging the architecture for organizational change). An organization generally needs to have achieved the fifth stage in the framework for it to have an effective architecture program because, at this stage, the management controls and structures are in place for using an approved architecture to guide and constrain system investments in a way that produces institutional results. Although each department is at Stage 1, the status of the programs vary considerably. Specifically, the Air Force far exceeds both the Navy and the Army, while the Navy generally exceeds the Army, in terms of the total percentage of core elements that are fully satisfied. Moreover, of the core elements that have not been fully satisfied by at least one of the three departments, most relate to architecture content, use, and measurement. Even though none of the departments have fully satisfied sufficient core elements to advance beyond Stage 1, the Air Force has at least partially satisfied all the core elements associated with Stages 2 and 3, as well as all but three core elements across all stages, and the Navy has at least partially satisfied all the core elements for Stage 2. In addition, the Air Force has made important progress in the last 2 years in maturing its architecture program, while the Navy's progress has been mixed, and the Army has not made any progress. Collectively, this means that DOD, as a whole, is not as well positioned as it should be to realize the significant benefits that a well-managed federation of architectures can afford its business systems modernization efforts. Individually, it means that the Air Force has a solid architectural foundation on which to continue building, while the Navy and, even more so, the Army has much to accomplish. According to Air Force officials, its progress owes largely to the architecture-related focus, commitment, and leadership of senior department executives, including the Secretary.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On May 2, 2008, Air Force representatives met with officials from the Army and Navy to discuss lessons learned in maturing the Air Force architecture program, and on May 15, 2008, Air Force representatives met again with Navy officials to further discuss lessons learned. According to the Air Force, lessons learned that were shared included having a dedicated staff to implement the department's enterprise architecture vision, institutionalizing the enterprise architecture through departmental policy, formally defining and implementing enterprise segment architectures, and securing senior leadership support for developing and using the enterprise architecture.

    Recommendation: Because we have outstanding recommendations to the Secretary of Defense aimed at, among other things, having the Departments of the Air Force, Navy, and Army fully satisfy each of the core elements in our architecture framework, we are not making additional recommendations relative to our framework at this time. However, given the uneven status and progress of the respective military departments, we reiterate our outstanding recommendations and further recommend that the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Navy and Army to ensure that their respective departments reach out to the Department of the Air Force to learn from and apply the lessons and experiences that have allowed the Air Force to make the progress it has in maturing its architecture program.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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