GAO: Limited progress made on defense EA

The Defense Department has made extremely limited progress in modernizing its business systems and implementing an enterprise architecture, the General Accounting Office reported this week.

In a report to congressional defense committees, GAO said: "After three years of effort and over $203 million in obligations ? we have not seen any significant change in the content of DOD's architecture or in DOD's approach to investing billions of dollars annually in existing and new systems."

Gregory Kutz, GAO's director of financial management and assurance, and Randolph Hite, GAO's director of IT architecture and systems issues, said in their report that modernizing the Defense Department's business systems is a huge challenge. In 2003, the department said it relied on about 2,300 systems, including accounting, acquisition, logistics and personnel systems to support its operations.

Still, GAO said, the Defense Department's "long-standing business systems problems adversely affect the economy, effectiveness, and efficiency of its business operations and have resulted in a lack of adequate transparency and appropriate accountability across all of its major business areas."

In 2001, the Defense Department initiated a program to develop a business enterprise architecture. Subsequently, the 2003 National Defense Authorization Act required the department to develop such an architecture and make regular reports on its progress.

Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM Corp. is helping build the Defense Department's business enterprise architecture. Eventually the 2,300 systems will be whittled down to one fully integrated business system.

In a September 2003 report, GAO outlined several recommendations. Although the Defense Department has established its Business Management Modernization Program, it has not adopted best practices for managing and implementing its enterprise architecture, GAO said.

The new report makes no new recommendations, but it reiterates what GAO considers 22 "open recommendations" that it made in three previous reports. Among those recommendations are steps toward controlling investments in business systems until an enterprise architecture can be implemented.

In responding to the report, Lawrence Lanzillotta, the Pentagon's acting comptroller, said the Defense Department hadn't made as much progress in modernizing its business systems as it would have liked. But he insisted progress hasn't been limited.

"GAO's assessment does not adequately consider or incorporate?important completed and ongoing activities, plans and documentation," Lanzillotta wrote.

Lanzillotta pointed to the Defense Department's IT Portfolio Management policy, issued March 22, as the foundation for the department's strategy.

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