Friday, 8 October 2010

Government Enterprise Architecture - ...

Nick Malik identified some challenges in Federal Enterprise Architecture in a recent post. Which lead me to question how hard can it be to use Enterprise Architecture practices to support more effective government?

Considering the business of government rather than concentrating on the nuts and bolts of IT in the abstract, there are very few patterns of government business. Even those of us protected(?) by the 'Westminster System of Goverment' can eventually map out the nature of business.

Much of the business of ministries, departments of state, and even minor agencies is not peculiar to their title or function. Formulating policy; measuring impact of policy; funding; communicating with citizens are a major part of every arm of government and there is value in having a common set of 'all of government' functions, activities, business rules etc. At the very least, it would reduce the number of reinventions of the wheel taking place in the areas of process improvement and consequential ICT solutions.

The remainder of the departmental business can be further divided. Sectors of government are often handled by a number of separate agencies (Education, Transport, Justice for example spawn agencies dedicated to special functions,like standards in education). There are however common objects, and objectives across the sectors (eg students; roads; people). This leaves a small amount of the business of a single government department that is peculiar to that small enterprise. 

There is, of course, a reasonable amount of Enterprise (IT) Architecture going on a whole of government basis driven by cost pressure but the scope for improving the whole operation of government is vast. Despite the advantage that government, as an enterprise, has over commercial enterprises, I do not see much evidence of the full scope of Enterprise Architecture in government. The size of the architecture problem would be considerably smaller and more likely to be delivered upon if the common elements were dealt top-down ...
 One view of the all-of-government; one view for each sector of government for the bits that remain; and then one view for each organisation for the bits that are truly the unique interest of that department.

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