I have worked for the Federal Government for 35 year, 10 years as an Army Officer, 10 Years in Civil Service, and 15 years as a government management consultant. I have worked as a manager or analyst in all of these roles.
From my experience, I submit that the authority (by law) and ability (by regulation) to quickly and simply reduce the cost of the US Federal Executive Branch’s (FEB) annual operations and development of new capabilities by more than 50% annually, while increasing the quality and timeliness of its performance, is already present in the FEB.
* Note that “resolving complexity and diversity in science and society into a system of controlled order” is the definition of “management” from the 1963 “Encyclopedia of Management” (Heyel, Editor). Or more simply – “management is the activity of continuously resolving natural disorder into intended order”.
* Also note that a useful definition for “enterprise” is: “an endeavor, such as an organization, and the collection of its value-chain participants or stakeholders”. These value-chain participants are typically customers, suppliers, authorities, subordinates, outsources/partners, and the public. So an enterprise is an endeavor within its broader context or situation.
* Another term relevant to this suggestion is the term “architecture”, which is: “the parts of a subject, the parts’ relationships to each other, and the attributes of the parts and relationships” The parts are the “nouns” about a subject, the relationships are “verbs” about the subject’s parts, and the attributes are adjectives for nouns and adverbs for verbs.
* So, an “enterprise architecture” is “the parts, part relationships, and part and relationship attributes about an endeavor and its value-chain participants or stakeholders.”
* An “enterprise architecture” is the primary mechanism of “enterprise management”, because it identifies and keeps track of all of the current and intended parts of an enterprise, their relationships/configuration, and their attributes/details.
But the primary resource of the US Nation as an enterprise, under the responsibility of the US FEB and an enterprise, is not being effectively, efficiently, or responsively “managed”. That primary resource is “Information”, and the FEB has specific responsibilities for Federal Information Resource Management (IRM) under the 1980 and 1995 Paperwork Reduction Acts (PRA).
The FEB also has responsibilities for using that information resource to improve the effectiveness, efficiency, security, productivity, capability, and performance of the FEB and the Nation (e.g., Internal Controls, Government Performance and Results Acts, Government Paperwork Elimination Act, Clinger-Cohen Act).
But if the information resource is not collected, organized, shared, maintained, or managed, then the benefits of the huge investments in creating that information (e.g. research, development, collection, analysis) are wasted – there is no true “management” of any endeavor within its broader enterprise without management of the full enterprise’s information. Without IRM, there is no enterprise management – there is “enterprise muddle”.
Within the FEB, there is no collected inventory of the ever-present and evolving “disordered” information, nor is there an adaptive intended “ordered” collection of information, nor is there a comprehensive, cohesive, coherent, and consistent method of “resolving” information disorder into information order. So the US FEB costs two to three times more per year to develop its capabilities and operate them than it should, for what it produces as goods, services, information products, benefits, entitlements, and other outputs and outcomes.
A primary mechanism to reduce the annual cost of the FEB and improve its quality and responsiveness, is to immediately and strongly enforce the IRM instructions in OMB Circulars A-123 (Federal Managers’ Responsibility for Internal Controls) and OMB Circulars A-130 (Management of Federal Information Resources). Neither of these Circulars is broadly applied nor enforced in the FEB, from the White House downward, nor out to those organizations outside the FEB who receive Federal funding.
Responsible parties within the White House EOP have not established the necessary guidance and assessment criteria for effective and efficient IRM. Thus, there is no path by which the FEB may become a most effective and efficient organization (MEEO). The primary operational component of the IRM mechanism is now called the Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA), evolving since 1998 from the US CIO Council and then, since 2002, the OMB FEA Program Management Office. Unfortunately, the original FEA guidance, and the newly evolving guidance, do not provide a mechanism for IRM for FEB missions, only for tying IT investment management to the FEB missions. To be specific, the FEB is providing guidance on how to buy and control information technology, not on how to manage the FEB and thus Nation’s public-domain Information Resources.
To achieve MEEO for the FEB, through strong FEB IRM that benefits the Government and the Nation, the FEB needs to include the following IRM parts in integrated updates to its Circular A-123, Circular A-130, and OMB FEA Guidance:
1. Within six months, build and deploy a FEB-wide standard process for IRM by applying terminology management techniques in the sequence below. FEB management depends on FEB IRM, and FEB IRM depends on FEB terminology management.
* Continuously discover and identify all FEB organization and FEB-relevant information content stores (structured, semi-structured, and unstructured). This would be performed with appropriate security and privacy constraints increasingly supported by the FEA mechanism, which can increasingly provide role-based access control (RBAC), and attribute-based access control (ABAC) knowledge to enable key to lock control over who, with a RBAC/ABAC key, can see and do what with resources having a RBAC/ABAC lock.
* Continuously index all content stores
* Extract out the terms of each content item (e.g., the data in a form’s fields, a form’s design, a document, the properties of the document, a diagram, the properties of the diagram, a database row, the database’s design, an email, the properties of the email)
* Identify each term as a noun, verb, adjective or adverb within the content’s structure (e.g., a noun within a sentence phrase)
* Build a “Term Inventory” in a single distributed/virtual repository for the FEB enterprise, uniquely identifying each term with a “universally-unique ID” (UUID) (a standard IT method)
* Identify within a single FEB distributed/virtual repository, the direct associations between terms (e.g., noun-verb-noun, subject-predicate_verb_predicate-object, table-column-row, class-attribute-instance)
* Build a FEB “Term Dictionary” for the Feb enterprise, enabling capture of all definitions used for a term, and their sources.
* Build a FEB “Concept Inventory” by linking models of “direct associations” within content (e.g.,within a phrase or clause) out to the broader-context (e.g., a sentence, paragraph,section, document, folder, library)
** Define, at all levels of endeavor, all FEB “concepts of operations” or CONOPS models (e.g., using simple concept mapping tools)
** Define subsequent endeavor “process models” (using process modeling standards, tools, and a single distributedFEB process model repository)
** Define subsequent “product models” within the process models and process repository
** Define subsequent “product metadata models” within the process repository (i.e., product descriptive information) as standard conceptual data models – CDM, logical data models – LDM, physical data models – PDM, and during later database and software design, physical database schema – DBSchema.
** Define subsequent “process metadata models” within the process repository (i.e., as CDM, LDM, and PDM of process, and later, the DBSchema of databases and software)
** Define subsequent “knowledge models” (as ‘ontologies” or “architecture metamodels” within a single “distributed” FEB knowledge/architecture/ontology repository
** Implement “knowledge-bases” from ontologies, or the equivalent “architectures” from architecture metamodels
** Define subsequent “value-chains” (and thus the collective “value-lattice”) of the endeavor (as “axiologies”)
** Implement “value-chain processes” as the broader “enterprise” of the endeavor.
* Build a FEB “Taxonomy” of terms categorized into broader to narrower meaning (i.e., a class hierarchy having attribute inheritance), as a “controlled vocabulary” for the FEB endeavor and broader FEB enterprise
* Build a FEB “Thesaurus” of terms, displayed using the Taxonomy, showing synonyms (e.g., equivalent, acronym, alias, misspellings, variant spellings) and variants, as the mechanism for jargon and language translation across elements of the FEB enterprise, and identifying preferred FEB terms for vocabulary standardization.
2. Within one year of defining the above IRM process, implement it across all operating activities funded by the FEB.
3. Annually validate compliance with Circular A-123, Circular A-130, and OMB FEA/IRM before issuing each Agency’s budget.
The emphasis on having a single FEB repository in the process above, and its physical and virtual distribution, is because the current approach of letting each FEB activity operate with autonomy in its management of its portion of Federal and National information resources, has led to the current crisis in government costs, effectiveness, and responsiveness, and has directly contributed to the government’s past, current, and imminent economic, social, and defense challenges.