U.S. Federal Enterprise Architecture as a Powerful Tool for ...
U.S. Federal Enterprise Architecture as a Powerful Tool for Transforming Federal
Government – Seminar Discussion Summary
Wednesday, November 22, 2006, World Bank, Washington DC
The seminar continued the discussion started a year ago at several previous e-thematic group
seminars to address the emerging global trend of IT enabled integration and transformation of the
public sector into a citizen-centric, effective and efficient unified enterprise, from the perspective of
World Bank Operations in our client countries. This event brought some 40 participants in the
room I1-200 in Washington and other locations and generated a lively discussion.
This seminar focused on the lessons learned and key results from the US transition towards a joined-
up government and deepened understanding of participants of why a whole-of-government
enterprise architecture is such a powerful tool for public sector reform. US FEA experience seems to
be a great example of how e-government is fully integrated and mainstreamed into the broader
public sector/admin reform agenda, yet without losing its own strong identity and focus.
The evidence from many other places, including the latest reports from UK Auditor General, UK
CTO and OECD confirms the need for better IT management and better alignment of ICT
investment with business/development goals and results. There are many tools available for
improving the governance and management of ICT investments, such as appointing and
empowering CIOs, CTOs and other e-leaders, developing interoperability framework and, as the
most holistic and innovative approach, developing a whole-of-government enterprise architecture
which ensures better impact of ICT investments as one of its key outcomes. US FEA is one of such
attempts although it covers only one level of government, federal agencies. UK Government is
developing a similar framework "xGEA" (cross-govt enterprise architecture), which is likely to cover
subnational governments as well. Other countries, such as Australia and New Zealand are also
exploring this approach as a tool for public sector transformation into a citizen-centric joined-up
government. We know that many transition and developing countries are also carefully studying the
US FEA experience of seamlessly linking e-government agenda with the broader administrative
reform and public sector transformation agenda.
In basic terms, federal enterprise architecture enforces a results-driven, citizen-centric, standards-
based approach on various line agencies to improve their performance and overall quality of
government services and minimize the risks of technology-driven failures. It was inspired by the
private sector best practices and does not concern just IT implementation but covers all government
business processes and therefore serves as a tool for govt process re-engineering and change
management. Enterprise architectures are often described as 'blueprints' and 'roadmaps' which help
government executives and CIOs plan for the future and effectively manage the transformation
The U.S. Federal Enterprise Architecture is an initiative of the Office of Management and Budget
(OMB) that aims to provide a common methodology for information technology systems across the
Federal Government. It was launched in February 2002 as a means of complying with the aims of
the Technology Management Reform Act of 1996 (Clinger-Cohen act). The Federal Enterprise
Architecture is designed to facilitate the sharing of information and resources across federal agencies
with a view to reducing costs and improving citizen services. The seminar helped to draw some
lessons relevant for developing countries, particularly in terms of identifying essential conditions for
successful implementation of enterprise architecture (EA) and applying EA across different agencies.
The event was also webcast live. Click here for more information and to download presentations and
The seminar was addressed by Mr Dick Burk, Chief Architect and Manager of the Federal
Enterprise Architecture in the OMB, and Mr Timothy Young, Associate Administrator of E-Gov
and IT in the OMB. Mr Deepak Bhatia, Manager ISG e-Government Practice at the World Bank
acted as a discussant. Russian federal enterprise architecture experts and the Ghanaian government
experts participated in the seminar by video link. Mr Philippe Dongier, Sector Manager, CITPO,
Global ICT Department of the World Bank, chaired the seminar.
Mr Dongier opened the seminar by identifying two key issues concerning the lessons that can be
learnt from the US approach to enterprise architecture. Firstly, which elements are necessary to start
working with enterprise architecture? Secondly, how enterprise architecture works when it is applied
across different agencies.
Mr Young said that the US federal government is the largest user and acquirer of information
technology globally with an annual expenditure on IT of $65 billion. The US federal government
sees enterprise architecture as key to improving the use and management of its IT assets while
reducing costs. Mr Young offered several examples of benefits to citizens, by the way of web
services, which have been made possible due to the unified systems and processes produced under
the enterprise architecture. Links to some of these web services are listed at the end of this note.
Mr Burk identified the main challenges as the complexity of government functions that require co-
ordination among multiple agencies and need to be dealt within a short time scale. He stressed the
need for support from the highest levels of government, noting that with without cabinet level
support implementing enterprise architecture would be very difficult. Mr Burk recommended an
incremental approach to launching and implementing enterprise architecture.
Using enterprise architecture can also help increase the use of outsourcing in government technology
processes, the speakers argued. Once the process has been properly defined, it may be advantageous
to outsource its implementation to the private sector.
The speakers identified the following key elements to achieving results using enterprise architecture:
1. High level support within the administration is critical.
2. Top-down initiatives tend to result in more successful implementation.
3. Establishing enterprise architecture principles at the start is important. A common language
through which to communicate enterprise architecture is necessary.
4. A common means of continuing to use enterprise architecture should be established.
5. Implementation should start from areas where quick and meaningful success can be
In response to a question from Ghana on the most important lessons for developing countries, Mr
Burk stressed the need for consistency of approach over time due to the complexity involved in
effecting change in governmental processes. He also advocated involving the government agencies
that are expected to use the architecture in its development.
In response to a question from the Russian participants regarding who is responsible for the
operation of information systems in the case that one system is shared across several agencies, Mr
Burk replied that it was important for agencies to take a leadership role and take ownership of the
systems. He also said that in many cases the systems are better operated by the private sector, once
unified under the enterprise architecture. The Russian government experts noted that the Russian
government has been closely following the US federal enterprise architecture and looking to adapt it
for their needs. The two Russian participants are the authors of the only Russian language book on
The session then heard from Mr Larry Meek, former CIO of the City of Vancouver, Canada. Mr
Meek noted that the enterprise architecture movement had been underway at the federal level in
Canada for about ten years. Although this movement started based on technical standards, Mr Meek
clarified that enterprise architecture is not about technology but is concerned with business
processes. As example of the successful use of enterprise architecture in Canada he cited the central
government website for all public procurement. A link to this site is provided at the end of the note.
In his presentation Mr Deepak Bhatia, Manager of the ISG e-Government Practice at the World
Bank, focused on implementation challenges in developing countries. He defined the goal as having
one-stop government, i.e. seamless integrated delivery of services to citizens which be a key driver
for inter-agency integration. From his experiences vertical integration tends to be far easier to
achieve and requires fewer resources than horizontal integration.
Regarding the particular challenges faced in developing countries, Mr Bhatia listed many issues that
can impede the adoption of enterprise architecture. He viewed a lack of political commitment to
back office reforms as a major obstacle; many leaders do not see the political benefit in pursuing
such reforms. In such cases, they need to be shown examples of success and start the initiative in
areas where visible results are quickly attainable. Mr Bhatia used a specific example to illustrate that,
unless an integrated approach to systems is used, the impact of projects employing technology to
deliver services to citizens can be severely weakened. He also pointed the problems arising when
different donors support the implementation of different systems without overall countrywide co-
ordination. In such situations having enterprise architecture in place at the national level can help
ensure the inter-operability of distinct donor-funded systems.
In the discussion that followed, participants raised the issue of responsibility for shared systems. In
some countries ministries may not be used to sharing budgets and systems. In addition, getting the
government-wide systems right is important to building confidence. For example, the UK
government’s model works from such a theory using exemplars to share best practices and build the
In conclusion, enterprise architecture can be a powerful tool in improving the effectiveness of all
ICT investments. It therefore has the potential to help improve the outcome and quality of World
Bank projects that include a significant ICT component. According to the latest estimate, 58% of
current Bank projects have a such a component, totalling an investment of $8.5 billion. However,
according to an ongoing review by the Bank’s Quality Assurance Group, only 52% of these projects
have a ‘satisfaction plus’ rating, compared with 64% of all projects included in the sample.
Recommended sources for further reference:
Jeanne W. Ross, Peter Weil, David Robertson, Enterprise Architecture as Strategy: Creating a Foundation for
Business Execution, Harvard Business School Press, 2006 (ISBN – 1591398398)
John P. Kotter, Leading Change, Harvard Business School Press, 1996 (ISBN – 0875847471)
http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/egov/a-1-fea.html - The White House page on U.S. FEA
Examples from UK:
http://www.cio.gov.uk/documents/cto/pdf/enterprise_architecture_uk.pdf - Enterprise Architecture for
http://www.cio.gov.uk/ - The Chief Information Officer Council, UK government
Examples of US citizen-centric shared service portals:
http://www.govbenefits.gov/ - enables citizens to view various benefits that they may be entitled to
http://www.grants.gov/ - information on and applications for government grants
http://www.regulations.gov - citizens can view all government regulations
Example from Canada:
http://www.merx.com/ - central public procurement site
Event website: click here for more information and to download presentations and archived videoclip.
The summary was drafted by Oleg Petrov and Richard Murby