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Information Technology: Enterprise Architecture Use Across the Federal Government Can Be Improved

GAO-02-6 Published: Feb 19, 2002. Publicly Released: Mar 19, 2002.
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An enterprise architecture includes descriptive models to help decisionmakers understand how an entity operates today and in the future. Although 52 percent of federal departments and agencies report that they have satisfied at least those management practices for developing, completing, and leveraging architectures, only four percent report that they have satisfied the management practices necessary for an effective enterprise architecture manager. As an advocate of enterprise architecture development and use, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has begun to address this area in its budget interactions with major departments and agencies. Nevertheless, OMB could improve its oversight by measuring agency progress in a more structured manner and advancing the state of enterprise architecture maturity, expanding the number of agencies subject to its oversight, and focusing on governmentwide actions to assist agencies in meeting common enterprise architecture challenges.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Office of Management and Budget To assist in its oversight of federal agencies' use of enterprise architectures (EA), the OMB director, in collaboration with the federal Chief Information Officer (CIO) Council, should use the maturity framework and agency baseline information provided in this report as the basis for helping agencies to advance the state of their respective EA development, implementation, and maintenance efforts, and for measuring agency progress. In doing so, the OMB director should require each of the agencies discussed in this report to (1) submit to OMB an annual update of the agency's satisfaction of each of the core elements contained in the maturity framework, and (2) have this update verified by the agency's inspector general or comparable audit function before it is submitted to OMB.
Closed – Implemented
According to OMB, it is using GAO's Enterprise Architecture Management Maturity Framework together with its own assessment framework as a basis for assessing and tracking agency improvements in enterprise architecture maturity and effectiveness. It has also developed an architecture assessment tool that it described as complementary to GAO's.
Office of Management and Budget Additionally, the director, in collaboration with the CIO Council, should develop and implement a plan to address governmentwide impediments to greater agency use of EAs. At a minimum, this plan should include the two primary challenges identified in this report--agency executive management understanding of EAs and availability of EA human capital expertise.
Closed – Implemented
Recently, OMB and the CIO Council have taken steps to address this recommendation by establishing a Chief Architects Forum. GAO participated in the first meeting on April 5, 2004. This forum provided a means for chief architects across federal agencies to systematically collaborate on matters of mutual concern and interest. Vehicles for this collaboration among members include periodic meetings, an on-line resource to share information and ideas, and special gatherings that focus on specific issues. According to OMB, the CIO Council will use the results of the Chief Architects Forum to identify additional actions to improve agencies' architecture maturity and effectiveness. GAO will continue to monitor these activities through its tracking of the open recommendations from its second governmentwide enterprise architecture survey report (GAO-04-40).
Office of Management and Budget Further, the director should report annually to the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs and the House Committee on Government Reform on the results of its annual update of the state and progress of federal agencies EA efforts.
Closed – Implemented
The President's Budgets for 2003, 2004, and 2005 have progressively increased the amount of information reported to Congress on IT and e-Government initiatives, including enterprise architecture. OMB continues to provide information to Congress on the state of agency enterprise architecture efforts through the budget and their participation in Congressional hearings.

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Agency missionsCost controlEnterprise architectureInformation technologySystems compatibilitySequencing planCost estimatesFederal agenciesChief information officersInvestment Review Board