Graduate School USA bringing EA back into vogue

Friday - 3/1/2013, 2:04pm EST

Ask the CIO

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Enterprise architecture is coming back in vogue. That's a sentence many cringe at and others run away from screaming with visions of line diagrams and shelfware.

But the Graduate School USA — formerly known as the USDA Graduate School — sees the future and enterprise architecture is playing bigger role based on what the initiatives from the Office of Management and Budget.

"Enterprise architecture is an extremely important program. Scott Bernard, the U.S. federal architect, recently released the new models for FEA 2 and we've also seen the release of the common approach," said Brian Moran, a lecturer at the graduate school, who is helping to develop the new EA curriculum. "OMB now is placing a lot of emphasis on enterprise architecture where they haven't most recently in the past couple of years. I think with the release of the common approach, with the release of the new FEA models, you will see more integration into PortfolioStat and the other activities OMB is engaged in."

As EA is making a re-emergence, Moran said cloud computing and cybersecurity remain among the most popular courses for chief information officers and their IT staffs at the Graduate School USA. The Graduate School USA was formerly known at the USDA Graduate School for the last 90 years until it changed its name and became a non-profit in February 2009.

This special edition of Ask the CIO is part of Federal News Radio's special report Top Leaders in Federal Service.

"The majority of students are federal employees and it includes a broad spectrum of people just starting their careers ranging all the way up to the top-ranked Senior Executive Service members," said Moran, who spent time in government as the director of IT services for the International Trade Commission and worked at the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis, and now is CEO of Government CIO, a consulting company. "It's a broad range and they come to the school to either advance their careers or if they are in a leadership positions, they are trying to utilize the graduate school's training to refine their management skills or to try to enhance the effectiveness they have over departments."

The school offers dozens of IT and management courses-which can be done in person or online, during the day or at night — ranging from A+ Certification to Web design and programming to desktop publishing. Additionally, the Graduate School also leadership development, government training and professional development, and a host of other courses focused on skills and capabilities federal employees would need to be successful.

Moran said many times agencies pay for the courses through purchase orders and they cost anywhere a few hundred dollars or more.

"A large number of the instructors at the graduate school are current or past federal employees," he said. "They can not only certification courses and contextualize them, but they can take some of the higher level, thought leading courses like cloud computing or enterprise architecture, and wrap them up in a way that would allow the students to be higher functioning students in a federal environment."

Cloud computing is one of those high level courses. Moran said CIOs are sending their staffs to ensure they understand how to move systems to the cloud, how to secure the cloud and many of the other aspects that come with changing to this latest technology.

Moran said CIOs and staff split a lot of their time between technology courses and management courses.

"Courses have to be changed substantially over time," he said. "What happens is the Graduate School will reassess their curriculum on a periodic basis. It's a group of really smart people who get together to put together the content. The content then has to be reviewed to make sure it's academically sound. Once the content is reviewed and approved, then it goes through an editorial process to make sure it's clean, without issues, it's pretty, it's pleasing and delivered in a sound manner to the students." Moran said the new courses around EA is going through this process now and should be ready in the next few months.

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