When people hear the word architecture in the context of computers, they're likely to think of hardware or, at best, systems. An enterprise architecture is much more general than that. An enterprise architecture is a basic structure or design for all the agency's real-world businesses, such as licensing or law enforcement, related information flows and the technologies that handle them. It's an exercise in system design and analysis, more than anything, and is meant to ensure that components cooperate and share data. [Government Technology News]
The Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 requires that all Federal agencies create an enterprise architecture. To put some teeth in that, the Office of Management and Budget has started linking funding to the existence of an enterprise architecture and a demonstrated correlation between the architecture and what the agency is proposing. Organizations like the Federal CIO Council and NASCIO publish information about enterprise architectures in government.
We recently completed an inventory of production databases in the state in an effort to come to grips with what data is stored where. Interestingly enough, there is no mandated planning process for data in Utah. Data represents an huge investment by the State and yet we create it, manage it, and destroy it as a side process to what we do, rather than a core activity.
I've been struggling with how to get a handle on this problem and others. Enterprise architectures would address many of these issues. Perhaps, we should require agencies to have an enterprise architecture and to link funding to it in the same way that OMB has for Federal agencies? The larger question is: how do we make the IT planning process useful and relevant? This will be one of the questions I'll be putting before the ACIO group when they meet.