Federal Enterprise Architecture: agencies and vendors brace for pain

IT vendors shooting for a slice of the $70 billion federal IT budget this year will have to revise their sales strategy as early as July 1st, according to a market alert published by INPUT.

IT vendors shooting for a slice of the $70 billion federal IT budget this year will have to revise their sales strategy as early as July 1st, according to a market alert published by INPUTFederal Enterprise Architecture (FEA) initiatives to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government information systems will be integrated into the quarterly Executive Branch Management Scorecards for each department-level federal agency as of June 30, 2005, according to a press release (thanks Tekrati for the tip).  The scorecards measure the government's progress toward executing the management initiatives set forth by President Bush's Management Agenda

The pressure is on vendors to demonstrate they get the big picture and can identify and address the IT needs consistent across many departments, according to Jennifer Geurin, senior analyst, federal agency profiles at INPUT. 

Good luck.  After reading Gartner's recently published How to Build a Business Case for Service-Oriented Development of Applications in Government, the burden agencies are facing to justify IT investments are copious and complex.  According to Gartner, agencies must do the following (compare them to your own organization's criteria for implementing SOA ):

  • Fully understand whether SOA is the correct architecture for the proposed new investment. Limited-scope and interim applications typically do not benefit from SOA because their business logic is not reused during their lifetime. In some cases, event-driven architecture (EDA) should be considered a complementary solution. Regardless of the required architecture, the agency must understand this prior to completing the business case.
  • Explain that SOA will ideally expose reusable services that will support the agency mission and discuss the justification of SODA by highlighting that the business processes that support the mission will be transformed to services that will be internally reusable not only to the agency, but also potentially to other external agencies. If possible, identify other established or pending applications that will make use of these components, as well as any measurable savings from this reuse, and highlight the role of reused components in interagency or inter-tier collaboration or integration. Additionally, SOA can often better support retirement of legacy components. A well-designed service will expose interfaces that should change only when the business semantics change and less often than the underlying service. These semantics should change only when the business changes. Underlying legacy services can then be swapped out piecemeal as long as the interfaces remain unchanged. As new services meeting the interface specifications are constructed, the old legacy technology can be retired. Ensure that enterprise architecture (EA) is in alignment with the implementation of SOA. Obviously, EA must reflect the commitment to SOA across all layers, including business architecture, information architecture and technology architecture.
  • Make sure SOA can support the President's Management Agenda and E-Government Initiatives; in the cases of government-to-citizen, government-to-government and government-to-business, services are provided to constituents and are often reused. SOA can enable these similar services to be implemented once and then applied to multiple constituents. Logic that is unique to each client application (including presentation logic) is handled outside the service, so it can be applied to other citizens, government agencies and businesses.

With many IT pros finding it hard to grasp SOA, you can bet federal agencies will struggle, which means the burden will fall on IT suppliers to step in and show the way.  And that's exactly what they'll do. BEA Systems just introduced its Federal BEA Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) Readiness Self-Assessment Tool designed to help government and public sector agencies quantitatively measure their progress in pursuing SOA as an IT strategy. Now, I wonder how agencies will go about justifying that investment...

More on government-targeted performance-based management tools, here