Monday, September 13, 2010

MIDAS, GAO and Enterprise Architecture

A recent GAO report on "Enterprise Architecture" shows why agencies like USDA have problems with their IT projects.  I quote one sentence from the summary:
The framework consists of three interrelated components: (1) seven hierarchical stages of management maturity; (2) four representations of management attributes that are critical to the success of any program or organizational endeavor; and (3) 59 elements, or building blocks, of EA management that are at the core of an EA program.
My point is, this sort of language quickly turns off the policy and program people, who just happen to be the ones who have to make the decisions.  What decisions might management have to make for MIDAS?

  • what's the time frame, both for implementation and for use of the product?
  • how secure is the funding and, if insecure, should the project be structured accordingly (i.e., incrementally rather than globally)?
  • which FSA programs will continue over the time frame and which will be changed, discontinued, etc.?
  • to what extent should FSA support RMA and crop insurance and what support can it expect from RMA
  • to what extent should FSA support NRCS and what support can it expect from NRCS?
  • to what extent should FSA support RD, Extension Service, APHIS, NASS? 
  • to what extent should FSA GIS layers be pushed into public and other governmental areas
  • should FSA focus on the most efficient delivery of benefits to farmers, regardless of the impact on county offices, or should it give priority to face-to-face contact with farmers at the local offices?
  • should the focus be on maximum use of  Government 2.0 techniques, or is there a misfit between current personnel and work patterns and such techniques?
  • how seriously should FSA take Obama administration directives (on transparency, etc.)
Note these and other questions can't be answered by IT types or the GS-14's and 13's who deal with them. In my experience management figures most of its job is done once they've assigned the "right" people to an IT project.  Their attention quickly turns back to the daily business of running the agencies and satisfying Congress.

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