Govt-wide enterprise architecture looms

By Leon Engelbrecht, ITWeb senior writer
Johannesburg, 05 Jun 2007

Government will spend R1 million to develop an enterprise architecture (EA) framework by November next year and map its existing systems architecture by January 2009, says the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA).

Spokesman Lewis Rabkin says the objective is "to promote standardisation and interoperability across the public service".

He says the project is already under way, in conjunction with the State IT Agency (SITA) and the Government IT Officers Council (Gitoc). "Technology, if utilised, will be neutral and not vendor-specific and will be based on open standards."

Compliance troubles

Turning to government's projected "standardised IT plan", Rabkin says the objective is "to ensure that IT plans support and enable individual departments' strategic planning".

At present, public service regulations require each state department to draft an information plan, an information infrastructure plan, as well as an operational plan that enables them to implement an information infrastructure plan and conduct information management.

However, "based on the previous engagement with departments, there have been variations in terms of formats and content..., which has made it difficult for [the] DPSA to ensure compliance because [it] was not able to check if [IT] plans supported internal strategic plans," Rabkin says.

"The standardised IT plan will assist government departments to develop uniform plans, with similar requirements," and will allow the DPSA to monitor compliance and achievement.

Rabkin says the DPSA is drafting an IT plan framework to guide its sister departments in collaboration with the Gitoc. He adds that since this is an internal project, "there is no specific budget allocated to this task, as its activities are covered under the department's normal budget".

Calling for amendment

The DPSA is also keen to amend the SITA Act in order to expand the agency's scope of work to the local level and ensure it is paid for services rendered.

"SITA was established to promote service delivery in a cost-efficient way," Rabkin says.

The SITA Act of 1998 initially limited the agency's work to national government departments. A 2002 amendment expanded this scope to the provincial level and "made provision for public bodies [such as Armscor, the SA Revenue Service or Land Bank] to use SITA if so desired".

Rabkin says the mooted establishment of a single public service (SPS) has created the "need to stimulate debates around the inclusion of municipalities, to ensure the objectives of SPS are not compromised".

In addition, the SITA Act does not allow for the convergence of information and telecommunication technologies. "In particular, section 7(1)(a)(i) needs to be amended to align these provisions with the Electronic Amendment Act of 2005," Rabkin explains.

The DPSA is also keen that SITA's mandate be expanded to include setting government-wide standards on security and the authentication of technological products and services.

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