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Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA) Reference Models
A Universal Language

December 1, 2003

The Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA) can be compared to “Rosetta Stone”. The name “Rosetta” refers to the breakthrough of Egyptian hieroglyphs. Why is this important? because the stone represented a single text in three different variations. This representation enabled French scholars to decipher the hieroglyphs as similar symbols and language. Like Rosetta Stone, the FEA represents a type of language – it’s a universal language, or taxonomy, that the government agencies should map their systems and processes to.

What is this universal language?

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) created the FEA to capture what the government does, how it performs its work and what goals it is trying to fulfill. As a guideline, they constructed five interrelated reference models: Performance Reference Model (PRM), Business Reference Model (BRM), Service Reference Model (SRM), Data Reference Model (DRM), and Technical Reference Model (TRM). These models make up the FEA; each of the models (or documents) map to a specific area of an organization’s architecture. If you think about it, these models are just the “universal language” that the OMB directed the agencies to speak before submitting their business cases and investment proposals. (For more information about FEA, see

What the Model Describes
It Answers...
PRMGoals and metrics of major IT investments and identifying improvement opportunitiesWhy? How well?
BRMGovernments’ lines of business (this model serves as the foundation for the FEA)What? Who?
SRMService components - tasks to accomplish business and performanceHow?
DRMData standards to support business goalsHow?
TRMTechnology principles, best practices, and standardsHow?

Why OMB created the FEA models

The OMB developed the FEA models, or language, so they can evaluate Information Technology (IT) investments systematically and uniformly with the intention to:

The OMB ultimately needed a mechanism to bridge the language barriers between IT systems and the investment process (see "Understanding BLM's Information Technology Investment Management Process").

How the OMB uses the FEA

The future requires that all agencies develop their business cases in alignment with the FEA language and taxonomy. Each OMB submittal will now be closely examined against the reference models to identify duplications in business functionality, technology investments, or data and services redundancy. By providing this service they are identifying not only dollar savings opportunities, but also identifying collaborative opportunities for the respective organizations. The result is potentially beneficial to the efficient use of dollars within the government and also a better use of taxpayers’ money.

Why it’s important for agencies to speak the FEA language

Bottom line, funding. It is in the requestors’ best interest to map their architecture to the FEA models before submitting investment requests. Requests are more likely to be processed and understood by the OMB and Department of Interior (DOI) in a more timely fashion, thus, eliminating unnecessary rework.

What the OMB expects from the agencies

Like the BLM, other agencies have also been directed to create an integrated and easy to understand Enterprise Architecture (EA) in FEA language to:

The BEA team has effective tools that will help facilitate the construction of a business case or investment proposal in the context of the FEA language. For example, the team developed the Target Application Architecture (TAA). The TAA maps systems to the BRM, TRM, DRM and SRM. This capability will allow the identification of investment opportunities in the context of a series of business-related IT investments, such as a program area.

In addition, the BEA team provides numerous other methods and techniques that will help supply and organize the FEA required information for investments. Those services include not only the TAA, but: the Business Process Engineering (BPR) Lab, which specializes in working through complex processes; the Technical Advisory Groups (TAGs), which conduct research on hardware, software, and services being considered in the BLM. Like the TAA, these methods can and have proven to be highly effective for the BLM. Click on the link below to show graphically how the BEA services map to the models.

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