Organizational Transformation:

Military Departments Can Improve Their Enterprise Architecture Programs

GAO-11-902: Published: Sep 26, 2011. Publicly Released: Sep 26, 2011.

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The Department of Defense (DOD) spends billions of dollars annually to build and maintain information technology (IT) systems intended to support its mission. For decades, DOD has been challenged in modernizing its systems environment to reduce duplication and increase integration. Such modernizations can be guided by an enterprise architecture--a blueprint that describes an organization's current and target state for its business operations and supporting IT systems and a plan for transitioning between the two states. DOD has long sought to employ enterprise architectures and has defined an approach for doing so that depends in large part on the military departments developing architectures of their own. In light of the critical role that military department enterprise architectures play in DOD's overall architecture approach, GAO was requested to assess the status of the Departments of the Air Force, Army, and Navy (DON) enterprise architecture programs. To do so, GAO obtained and analyzed key information about each department's architecture relative to the 59 core elements contained in stages 1 through 6 of GAO's Enterprise Architecture Management Maturity Framework.

While Air Force, Army, and DON each have long-standing efforts to develop and use enterprise architectures, they have much to do before their efforts can be considered mature. GAO's enterprise architecture management framework provides a flexible benchmark against which to plan for and measure architecture program maturity and consists of 59 core elements arranged into a matrix of seven hierarchical stages. The Air Force has fully satisfied 20 percent, partially satisfied 47 percent, and not satisfied 32 percent of GAO's framework elements. The Army has fully satisfied 12 percent and partially satisfied 42 percent of the elements, with the remaining 46 percent not satisfied. Finally, DON has satisfied 27 percent, partially satisfied 41 percent, and not satisfied 32 percent of the framework elements. With respect to stages 1 through 6 of GAO's architecture framework, the military departments have generally begun establishing institutional commitments to their respective enterprise architecture efforts (stage 1), not established the management foundations necessary for effective enterprise architecture development and use (stage 2), begun developing initial enterprise architecture content (stage 3), not completed and used their initial enterprise architecture versions to achieve results (stage 4), not expanded and evolved the development and use of their respective architectures to support institutional transformation (stage 5), and taken limited steps to continuously improve their respective architecture programs and use their architectures to achieve corporate optimization (stage 6). Officials at the military departments stated that they have been limited in their ability to overcome long-standing enterprise architecture management challenges, including receiving adequate funding and attaining sufficient senior leadership understanding. Nevertheless, DOD has been provided with considerable resources for its IT systems environment, which consists of 2,324 systems. Specifically, DOD receives over $30 billion each year for this environment. Without fully developed and effectively managed enterprise architectures and a plan, the Air Force, Army, and DON lack the necessary road maps for transforming their business processes and modernizing their hundreds of supporting systems to minimize overlap and maximize interoperability. What this means is that DOD, as a whole, is not as well positioned as it should be to realize the significant benefits that a well-managed federation of architectures can afford its systems modernization efforts, such as eliminating system overlap and duplication. Because DOD is provided with over $30 billion each year for its IT systems environment, the potential for identifying and avoiding the costs associated with duplicative functionality across its IT investments is significant. GAO recommends that the military departments each develop a plan for fully satisfying the elements of GAO's framework. DOD and Army concurred and the Air Force and DON did not. In this regard, DOD stated that Air Force and DON do not have a valid business case that would justify the implementation of all the elements. However, GAO continues to believe its recommendation is warranted.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: To ensure that the military departments establish commitments to fully develop and effectively manage their enterprise architectures, the Secretaries of the Air Force, Army, and Navy each should expeditiously provide to the congressional defense committees a plan that identifies milestones for their respective department's full satisfaction of all of our Enterprise Architecture Management Maturity Framework elements. In the event that a military department does not intend to fully satisfy all elements of our framework, the plan should include a rationale for why the department deems any such element(s) to be not applicable.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of the Air Force has developed a draft plan that includes actions associated with addressing unsatisfied framework elements and milestones for completing the actions. However, the plan has not yet been approved or funded.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the military departments establish commitments to fully develop and effectively manage their enterprise architectures, the Secretaries of the Air Force, Army, and Navy each should expeditiously provide to the congressional defense committees a plan that identifies milestones for their respective department's full satisfaction of all of our Enterprise Architecture Management Maturity Framework elements. In the event that a military department does not intend to fully satisfy all elements of our framework, the plan should include a rationale for why the department deems any such element(s) to be not applicable.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

    Status: Open

    Comments: Officials from the department of the Army stated that the department plans to address all of the framework elements. However, the department has yet to develop a plan for doing so.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the military departments establish commitments to fully develop and effectively manage their enterprise architectures, the Secretaries of the Air Force, Army, and Navy each should expeditiously provide to the congressional defense committees a plan that identifies milestones for their respective department's full satisfaction of all of our Enterprise Architecture Management Maturity Framework elements. In the event that a military department does not intend to fully satisfy all elements of our framework, the plan should include a rationale for why the department deems any such element(s) to be not applicable.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of the Navy provided a memorandum describing its proposed approach for addressing the framework elements that it considers applicable, but the memorandum did not describe the department's milestones for addressing the elements. In addition, the department did not provide evidence to support that the memorandum has been delivered to the congressional defense committees.

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