ment, and design. It provides substantial detail on the structure and standards used to implement the IT system. The enterprise architecture is the framework that describes the way in which an organization such as the FBI conducts its mission(s), how it organizes and uses technology to accomplish its goals and execute key operational processes, and how the IT system is structured and designed in detail to achieve these objectives. In general, it should also include documentation that explains the rationale behind important decisions and why certain alternatives were chosen and others rejected.

An enterprise architecture thus contains much more than information about technology. The enterprise architecture becomes the template on which the IT investment is rationalized, and the enhancements to the FBI’s mission achievement, the return on the investment, are defined and quantified using appropriate metrics. When new needs emerge, as with the counterterrorism mission, an enterprise architecture provides a point of departure—a framework within which additional capabilities can be coherently designed.

Absent an enterprise architecture, it is essentially impossible for any large organization, including the FBI, to make coherent or consistent operational or technical decisions about IT investments. Among these decisions are the definitions of appropriate data structures and linkages to other systems and data sources, policies and methods of information sharing, issues of security and the tradeoffs with information access, innovation, and the exploitation of evolving technologies, and metrics of effectiveness for the IT system and its use.

The close link between good enterprise architecture planning and sound systems engineering practice on the one hand and success in large-scale IT deployments on the other has been demonstrated in numerous examples in the private sector and in the federal government.1 Further, the existence of the enterprise architecture can be a major contributor to the confidence and trust that management, users, and implementers have in a project, as well as facilitating cooperation among them. A well-documented and communicated enterprise architecture is a prerequisite for driving cultural and operational change and innovation at a pace that effectively capitalizes on the pace of technology improvement. Good models depict the as-is (today’s) environment as well as the to-be (future desired) environment, showing the transition.

The Structure of an Enterprise Architecture

While technology capability is an important input to operational strategy, it is important that IT investment not be driven primarily from the technology end, but rather that operational strategy drive technology investment and system design. To this end, the committee believes that a good starting point for achieving the required linkage is to think about architectures in three conceptually distinct but interrelated forms:2


For an example in a medical setting, see Jonathan M. Teich et al., “The Brigham Integrated Computing System (BICS): Advanced Clinical Systems in an Academic Hospital Environment,” International Journal of Medical Informatics 54:197–208 (1999). For a case study in which failure was closely associated with insufficient attention to architectural issues, see National Research Council, Continued Review of the Tax Systems Modernization of the Internal Revenue Service, Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1996. For a case study in the private sector that demonstrates similar lessons, see Christopher Koch, “AT&T Wireless Self-Destructs,” CIO Magazine, April 15, 2004, available at


The architectural triad used here originates with the Department of Defense, which has used this framework to develop its command and control systems since 1997. (A good reference on this subject is Architecture Working Group, Department of

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