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Align Your IT Initiatives With FEA Reference Models
Discover how the FEA framework can help you measure the effectiveness of your IT investments.
by Brent Carlson

December 1, 2004

Most of you are probably familiar with the old joke punch line that goes something like this: "We're from the [pick your favorite government bureaucracy], and we're here to help," implying that help via government involvement is the last thing you should expect. Although you might find this true in some aspects of life, a federal government initiative called the Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA) promises to help IT organizations—both inside and outside of government—establish a reference structure across their existing applications and their new business process–centric initiatives (see "Enterprise Architecture by Legislation").


What is the FEA?
To quote from the Federal Enterprise Architecture Program Management Office (FEAPMO), "The FEA is a business and performance-based framework to support cross-agency collaboration, transformation, and government-wide improvement. It provides the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the federal agencies with a new way of describing, analyzing, and improving the federal government and its ability to serve the citizen." The OMB leads the FEA initiative. The OMB Circular A-11 Section 300, "Planning, Budgeting, Acquisition, and Management of Capital Assets," establishes a requirement of all federal agencies to describe and align their major IT projects in the context of the FEA's constituent reference models, which are defined as follows:

  • Performance Reference Model (PRM), which focuses on measuring the performance of major IT investments and their contribution to program performance.
  • Business Reference Model (BRM), which organizes and describes the day-to-day operations of the federal government.
  • Service Component Reference Model (SRM), which classifies business and application services and components within horizontal and vertical service domains to support discovery and reuse of those service and component assets.
  • Data and Information Reference Model (DRM), which, when defined, will describe the data and information structures that support federal program operations.
  • Technical Reference Model (TRM), which describes the standards, specifications, and technologies to support the construction, delivery, and exchange of services and components.

Structurally, you can view the Federal Enterprise Architecture's reference model layers as follows (see Figure 1):

  • The PRM provides a vehicle for executive and management oversight of IT initiatives.
  • These initiatives are delivered through applications composed of components and services organized under the SRM and aligned with one or more business capabilities defined by the BRM.
  • Each component and service, in turn, is supported by technical and information elements selected from the TRM and DRM.

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