Western CIO Summit: Enterprise Architectures


One of the panels is on Enterprise Architectures. The panel consists of:

  • Curtis Wolf, CIO, North Dakota
  • Val Oveson, CIO, Utah
  • Robb Stoddard, CIO, Alberta
  • Moira Gerety, CIO, new Mexico
  • Bob Haycock, Manager, FEAPMO

Curtis is talking about North Dakota's Enterprise architecture program. They have made a lot of progress, although Curtis says its been sidetracked a little by agency angst over a legislatively mandated centralization of many IT functions, including email, database, and server administration. Curtis believes that the EA process would have eventually led to the same conclusions and done so in a way that wasn't so upsetting to the business. I think he's right. I've always believed that more centralized administration of IT functions is a fact of life that will happen and its much better for an IT organization to decide on their own how that should happen than it is to wait for someone else to decide for you.

Val is describing Utah's governance structure, put in place by the Governor last August, that uses the Cabinet as the IT project portfolio managers and a dotted line organization between the CIO's office and the CIOs in each agency that . Still, he says uncertain related to governance is the hardest question in putting an EA into place (every other CIO on the panel shakes their heads). Vision in Utah is clear. Application development is moving forward (witness eRep, for example). Infrastructure consolidation has not happened because the required political capital isn't available. Val also mentioned the new strategic plan and the hard work that went into it by agencies. This strategic plan does an excellent job of outlining seven great goals for eGovenrment in Utah and listing objectives for each one. As always, the proof will be in the implementation, but getting the governance done is a greate start.

Moira is one of the new CIOs who came into office from last year's election cycle. Her background is private sector. Its clear as you hear her speak that she's got an aggressive new Governor who's ready to make some changes. This translates into a desire to move money from IT into programs, in this case. This leads to less emphasis on technical architectures. She makes a case for open source and open systems. Architecture is impacted by procurement. Being new, she's concentrated on the governance issue and working toward a sub-cabinet group of agency CIO's. They are focused in three main areas of state functions: client services, resource management, and government operations.

Robb started off talking about the creation of Alberta SuperNet, a network that connects every school, library, health facility, and government office. This gave Robb a wide area network that allowed him to ask the agencies: how would you do business if bandwidth and storage were not an issue. The natural outcome in many cases was more consolidation. Robb views his role as defining the rules and creating the rulebook (the EA) and playing the part of referee as the agencies "play the game." Interestingly, after getting a governance model in place, Alberta started with a data architecture. This is unusual, but also a good way to promote data sharing. Its hard to do because executives want to fund "programs" not data.

Bob, as director of the Federal EA Program Management Office and, given OMB's mandate that new money won't go to programs without an EA, is in much demand. He's responsible for directing the development and implementation o the Federal EA. There are four primary objectives:

  • identity opportunities to leverage technology and alleviate redundancy. or to highlight were agency overlap limits the value of IT investments.
  • establish "line of sight" contribution of IT to mission and program performance.
  • facilitate horizontal (cross-Federal) and vertical (Federal, State, and Local) integration of IT resources.
  • support a more citizen-centered, customer-focused government that maximizes IT investments to better achieve mission outcomes.
I've written about the FEA's reference models before. Bob specifically calls attention to the Performance reference model and deals with business inputs, business outputs, and desired outcomes. This is unique in enterprise architectures, but tells Federal agencies how their architectures ought to address the subject of metrics for business process improvement.