Federal Enterprise Architecture Reference Model Maintenance Process

CIO Council - AIC, OMB - Office of E-Gov & IT - FEAPMO
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The Chief Information Officers (CIO) Council, Architecture and Infrastructure Committee (AIC), in its advisory role, has assumed responsibility for recommending a process for maintaining the Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA) reference models. This recommendation is being provided to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Federal Enterprise Architecture Program Management Office (FEA PMO), as input to assist their decision on how best to maintain and refresh the reference models over time. OMB reviewed the AIC’s initial recommendation and decided to pursue a joint proposal as detailed in this paper.

As noted in FEA Reference Model documentation, “The FEA is about driving government transformation, and giving federal agencies the management tool they need to focus technology on the citizen and on the right business results.” The proposed maintenance process ensures that this management tool is effective. Through effective execution of the maintenance process, the value and usefulness of reference models to agencies and OMB will increase.

A number of considerations drove development of the FEA reference model maintenance process, as summarized below.

  • Collaborative – Provides opportunities for stakeholders to have a voice in the evolution of the reference models, both through the submission of recommended revisions and through involvement in decision-making processes
  • Transparent – Allows stakeholders to understand how the process works and to know how specific revisions are progressing throughout the process
  • Effective – Results in the desired outcome, notably reference models that are valid, accepted, and useful to users
  • Efficient – Ensures an effective maintenance process with minimal burden on government resources

Moreover, the proposed maintenance process:

  • aligns with the budget cycle to ensure continuity and to ensure that the models can be used to aid in developing architectures that can be used for determining investments;
  • is agile, recognizing that some reference models will require more frequent updates than others;
  • promotes stability of the models, recognizing that revisions have significant implications and repercussions for the reference model users.

The five high-level phases of the maintenance process are below:

  • Submission - Submitters suggest revisions/modifications to the reference model(s) by completing a standardized on-line form. Additionally, during this phase the AIC will attempt to engage agencies in discussion on strategic and directional changes for the models.
  • Evaluation - Submissions are evaluated by the Reference Model Revision Assessment Team based on evaluation criteria. The submissions are scrubbed and direction is provided to the AIC and OMB for a joint review session. The AIC assesses the submissions and makes a recommendation to OMB. OMB, particularly the Administrator for E-Gov and IT then approves or rejects the submissions.
  • Revision - Upon approval, the OMB selects a process owner who convenes a team responsible for revising the reference model. The revised model is distributed to agencies the OMB, and the AIC for review, and final revisions are made based on feedback.
  • Final Approval - The OMB reviews the final version of the reference model based on several key characteristics and either approves the reference model or returns the reference model to the process owner for further refinement. It is the Administrator for E-Gov and IT that approves the final recommended changes for release.
  • Rollout - OMB accepts the final reference model by determining when the model will be released, developing the communication plan, releasing the model, and executing the communication plan.

The proposed maintenance process allows agencies to revise the reference models to meet their requirements, as well as evolve and transform the Federal government into a more citizen-centered, customer-focused government.