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The concept of enterprise architecture emerged in the mid- 1980s as a means for optimizing integration and interoperability across organizations. In the early 1990s, GAO research of successful public and private sector organizations led it to identify enterprise architecture as a critical success factor for agencies that are attempting to modernize their information technology (IT) environments. Since then, GAO has repeatedly identified the lack of an enterprise architecture as a key management weakness in major modernization programs at a number of federal agencies. It has also collaborated with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the federal Chief Information Officers (CIO) Council to develop architecture guidance. In 2002, OMB began developing the Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA), an initiative intended to guide and constrain federal agencies' enterprise architectures and IT investments. GAO was asked to testify on the status of the FEA and on the state of federal agencies' development and use of enterprise architectures.

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