Oman eGovernment Architecture Framework: Sultanate of Oman (OeGAF)
Information Technology Authority

The Problem

Clear, Supreme Directive
In His Majesty’s speech at the Council of Oman on 11 Nov 2008, the Sultan of Oman stated that:

“Information technology and communications have now become the main elements that move forward the development process in this third millennium… We call upon all government institutions to speedily enhance their performance, and to facilitate their services, by applying digital technology in order to usher the Sultanate into the constantly evolving spheres for applying knowledge.”

Separately, there is a Digital Oman Strategy (called e.oman for short) that outlines the blueprint for several key ICT initiatives which aim to empower the citizens and businesses by providing meaningful interaction through eServices. The e.oman strategy addresses infrastructure building, eGovernment, ICT industry development and digital society issues among others.

Due to the supreme directive and e.oman strategy, government agencies have initiated many plans and projects to improve their performances and to provide better public services.

While a good number of ICT projects were successfully implemented on its’ own merit, ITA realised that the real issue was not address – i.e. there is simply no alignment of government business functions to the use of ICT.

Key Findings
A detailed study by the Information Technology Authority (ITA) revealed the following findings:

i. Obsolete Technologies
It was found that many government agencies were still using old, obsoleted technologies such as network equipment, servers, PCs, database management systems and application operating systems. While there are government agencies that have replace them with newer technologies, by and large obsolete technologies were prevalent.

ii. No Sharing of Infrastructure
The development approach in government agencies were in random fashion. Depending on the need to address a specific problem or issue, infrastructure components such as network devices and servers were procured simply to tackle that particular problem. Over time, many government agencies have a growing number of under-utilise silo hardware and software.

iii. No Sharing of Data
Similarly, the data within a typical government agency is not shared. As each application was developed, it created its own set of data. Data entities and data elements were duplicated that resulted in loss of data integrity. This problem is further expounded as data is not shared among government agencies resulting in further data duplications.

iv. Adhoc Application Development
Applications were developed to provide a solution to a specific problem. It was found that many applications do not automate the core government functions of the agencies. The choices made to find solutions were therefore adhoc and not prioritised.

v. Manual Government Services
Since these applications do not automate the core government functions, many agencies continue to provide manual services to the public. While government agencies now have websites, they typically provide information to the public only.

Growing Public Expectations
In addition to the above findings, a more pressing challenge was the increasing expectations of the public. With a growing population, the younger Omanis who are more ICT literate have new expectations for more and faster e-services for the citizens and businesses.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
Structured, Standards-Based Solution
To lead and guide government agencies through this digital transformation in an efficient, coordinated and integrated manner, ITA realised that an enterprise architecture (EA) solution for the whole of Oman Government was required. EA would aid to provide answers to strategic questions such as:
• Are the core government functions operating effectively?
• Are the government functions supported by ICT and efficient processes?
• Are data shared to improve government information integrity?
• Are appropriate cost-effective technologies being used?

EA would align technology, data, applications and processes with the respective government functions that will meet the vision and targets of each government agency and the overall e.oman digital strategy objectives.

The EA, called Oman eGovernment Architecture Framework (OeGAF), was developed using The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF). OeGAF consists of 4 reference models that are interconnected - Business Reference Model, Solution Reference Model, Information Reference Model and Technical Reference Model. OeGAF contains principles, strategies and building blocks that support the goals of the Oman Government. The architecture can direct the selection, use and operation of technologies needed to support government business requirements and delivery of services.

Key Benefits
OeGAF helps the Government to act as an “Integrated Enterprise” and manage ICT as a strategic investment.

OeGAF facilitates interoperability and integration of ICT systems among various government agencies. Through OeGAF, citizens, residents and businesses can experience the convenience of seamless integrated government services.

OeGAF was the first whole of government initiative where 72 government agencies were profiled and mapped to the 24 Lines of Business.
This matrix has given a strategic insight to various government decision makers. OeGAF now acts as a quick reference to understand the multiple and complex relationships among the various government agencies while devising service delivery strategies. In addition, OeGAF aids the identification of integration opportunities within a Line of Business and across government agencies. Through OeGAF, the current government service delivery status and modes were analysed, and this led to the newly developed eGovernment Transformation Plan approved by the Oman Cabinet of Ministers in July 2012.

Other benefits realised were:
• OeGAF laid out a matrix for identifying priority government functions based on 2 parameters - “Extent of Social / Economic Impact” and “Extent of Collaboration”. 18 government functions were identified for high priority and subsequently 19 projects recommended for implementation.
• All new data developments are now based on the 3 Data Hubs defined in OeGAF namely Person Hub, Establishment Hub and Land Hub.
• OeGAF standards for compliance were included in all new ICT government contracts and Request For Proposals (RFPs). To ensure that new developments and major enhancements comply with OeGAF standards and best practices, ICT vendors have to propose OeGAF compliance solutions.
• With the implementation of OeGAF eGovernment Knowledge and Information analysis Tool (eKIT), it effectively aids the planning, development, implementation and monitoring of Oman e-government. The eKIT was designed to provide information on 3 fronts – strategic, management (or tactical) and operations. As ITA collected more data, eKIT has aided ITA in looking into strategic areas for improvements such as e-services, common applications and government integration.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The solution was first proposed by the Governance & Advisory Division of ITA. A team of consultants from this division provides ICT consultancy services to the government agencies. Over time, they realised the need for the whole of Oman Government enterprise architecture. This solution was also integrated and updated into the e.oman digital strategy as one of the key pillars n shaping and improving e-government and e-services deployment.

The team then called and received a number of proposals on OeGAF development by various international consultancy firms. After some deliberation, OeGAF development was awarded to IDA International (Singapore). The team from Governance & Advisory was the project manager.

The OeGAF implementation team comprised of the following members.
• OeGAF Executive Committee Level – CEO of ITA and CEO of IDA International
• OeGAF Steering Committee Level – Director Generals of each of the divisions in the ITA namely
o Governance and Advisory
o Strategy and Planning
o Center of Information Security
o Infrastructure and e-Services.

• OeGAF Core Project Team (consultants from Governance & Advisory Division)
The core project team comprised of:
o 5 Lead Architects for each of the Architectures namely Business, Solution, Information, Technical and Security architectures
o Project Manager of IDA International
o All the core team members are TOGAF Certified professionals

• OeGAF Expert Working Groups
Working with the IDA International (Singapore) consultants, 4 OeGAF expert working groups were formed representing the 4 architectures – Technical, Solution, Information and Business (note that security is embedded into 3 main architectures with the exception of Business). The members of the OeGAF working groups were experts or experienced ICT staff in ITA and the various government agencies. Each of the 4 OeGAF expert working groups have reviewed and discussed the technical standards, guidelines and best practices within their domains.

ITA officially launched OeGAF in June 2010.

ITA is the main internal stakeholder as ITA leads the Oman government agencies in the digital transformation. The government agencies are the external stakeholders as OeGAF provides standards, guidelines and best practices for the development and implementation of government ICT projects.

The ICT vendors in Oman are also considered as partners. These vendors will study, propose, design and implement OeGAF-compliant ICT solutions on behalf of the government agencies. ITA has provided OeGAF briefings to the ICT vendors and allows them to access the OeGAF portal for reference.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
There were 3 basic strategies in implementing OeGAF.

Establish Business Drivers
ITA established the main business drivers of OeGAF as follows:
• Strategic alignment of government service objectives and initiatives
• Improved decision making and elimination of inefficient and redundant processes
• Enhanced interoperability across the government agencies and improved capability for sharing important business related information
• Consistent methodologies for collection, handling and presentation of business data
• Rapid development of new applications and ease of modifications
• A knowledge base of ICT standards, best practices and related resources
• Optimisation of the use of government ICT assets
• Streamlined procurement process and cost reduction
• Improved adaptability to changing demands or business conditions
• Improve customer service, achieve cost savings, and reduce complexity of ICT systems.

Engaging the Stakeholders
It was important to engage the stakeholders throughout the project. The stakeholders were ITA (internal) and the government agencies (external).

During the OeGAF development, the expert working groups were formed so that experts from ITA and government agencies can provide their inputs, comments, ideas and reviews. This was important as OeGAF was positioned for the whole-of-government (and not for ITA).

This was a unique model that was applied in OeGAF. Different working groups were formed to address requirements and needs of the different OeGAF architectures namely Business, Solution, Information, Technical and Security.
There were approximately 85 working group members from over 35 government agencies. This was done to ensure early buy-in, to address the diverse government requirements and to leverage on the complementary capabilities of each specialist member. All the working group members were acknowledged by the Undersecretary of Ministry of Civil Services for Administrative Development Affairs who handed each member a certificate and memento.
Awareness and Alignment (A2) Program
The program aims to provide relevant information about OeGAF and its importance to the government agencies and the ICT vendors. The following awareness activities were carried out:
• Official launch of OeGAF in June 2010
• OeGAF hardcopy documents were given to all government agencies
• Posters and other marketing materials were published and distributed
• OeGAF portal was launched with more than 160 user accounts from government agencies and ICT vendors registered
• OeGAF was presented in COMEX 2011 & 2012 (Muscat) and in the Al Khareef festival 2011 (Salalah); it was also presented to a group of final year Information Systems students in SQU (2012)
• The on-going OeGAF trainings have started (each training covers introduction to OeGAF, Business Reference Model, Solution Reference Model, Information Reference Model and Technical Reference Model).
The alignment program aims to ensure that government agency’s ICT solutions and practices are in compliance with OeGAF where the following were carried out:
• 7 government agencies have completed the compliance assessment; their strengths and weaknesses and possible areas for improvements were briefed
• Information from another 23 government agencies have been populated.
The business benefits achieved from the OeGAF A2 Program are:
• Benchmarking of government agencies according to their OeGAF scores to aid strategic decisions on ICT improvement areas
• Understanding of government agencies’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
• Identifying potential e-services that can be delivered by the government agencies
• Strategic ICT decision making.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
The following were the key development and implementation steps:

a. Preliminary Solution
With the formation of ITA in 2006, there was a need to develop ICT programmes to execute the e.oman national ICT strategy. Between 2007 and 2008, much research was carried out on how other countries have implemented their government enterprise architecture programmes. The early version of the OeGAF was drafted in early 2008.

b. OeGAF Development
From the draft OeGAF version, a number of international consultancy firms were called to provide proposals to develop OeGAF into full blown government-wide enterprise architecture. IDA International (Singapore) was awarded the contract in March 2009.

The development of OeGAF started immediately and completed in April 2010. With the relevant marketing materials and publications prepared, OeGAF was officially launched in June 2010.

c. OeGAF Awareness and Alignment (A2) Program
The OeGAF A2 started upon the launch of OeGAF. A number of activities were carried out on increasing the OeGAF awareness. The OeGAF portal was launched in January 2011. OeGAF trainings, which are on-going, started in June 2011.

Between September 2010 and January 2011, 6 key government agencies participated in the OeGAF alignment process. Data about these 6 agencies were captured and their OeGAF compliance scores recorded. Since then, data about other agencies have been captured through eKIT.

In February 2011, OeGAF won The Open Group Arabia Enterprise Architecture award.

As of today, data from a total of 30 government agencies were captured into eKIT.

The A2 Program is on-going.

d. Improvements and Maintenance
A number of feedback and comments were received from various government agencies and ICT vendors. At the same time, there were changes to the Oman Government structure and form. There were a number of changes to names and scope of responsibilities of government agencies especially in late 2011. These minor changes, which were recorded through a formal process, will be batched for the next version / release update of OeGAF.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
2 main obstacles encountered were finding the right enterprise architecture solution and lack of documentation.

Right Enterprise Architecture Solution
During the preliminary solutioning, the team combed many enterprise architectures. However, it was not easy or possible to adapt these solutions especially from the advanced countries. Given the Omani culture, the ICT readiness of the government agencies and the state of the ICT industry, OeGAF has to be tailored and personalised for the Oman Government.

After receiving a number of EA proposals, a detailed study was carried to find the right solution. The IDA International proposal was chosen as it provided ITA the flexibility to customise according to ITA’s requirements. Working with the vendor, the team finalised the approach as follows:

1. TOGAF-based which is internationally practise
2. Top-Down approach (structured views of government starting from the business functions)
3. Bottom-Up approach (views of government ICT infrastructure and what it supports)
4. Expert Working Groups (provides consensus and specific government agency requirements)

TOGAF was adopted as it was an internationally recognised practice. ITA consultants took up the TOGAF course and certification so that they are familiar with the TOGAF methodology.

The OeGAF development approach was both top-down and bottom up to provide a complete perspective of government agencies ICT landscape. This combination of approaches helped to identify gaps during information gathering and analysis. It was also required as there was generally insufficient documentation (see below).

The right solution has to be accepted by the eventual stakeholders. The expert working groups, who were engaged early in the project development, were instrumental in providing guidance, requirements and reviews.

Lack of Documentation
Government agencies typically have limited and out-dated documentation. It was a challenge to find documentation of government agencies so that the data can be captured into OeGAF. The information that the team required was about the government agency’s role and functions, the supporting applications, the data elements and the various infrastructure details ranging from PC, server, database to networks.

To solve this problem, the team searched for information in the following areas:

1. Currently available documentation in government agencies
2. Interviews with government agency staff
3. Make references to documentation within the whole-of-government.

Current available documentation was first used to provide the base information regarding the government agency. This documentation includes physical files and papers, digital copies and websites. The team would then interview the relevant government staff to obtain more data. A good percentage of information or updated information was gathered through interviews.
The team also realised that information about the government agencies can also be referenced from other national projects such as:
• Study on government agencies roles and functions in the Sultanate of Oman
• e.oman digital strategy
• The Oman Official eGovernment Portal
• Various reports on the e-readiness and ICT projects in Oman.
The above documentation covered the missing information that the team was searching for some time. While no documentation is ever complete, the final information captured was deemed satisfactory for OeGAF development.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
Government-wide enterprise architecture can be very costly and it does not guarantee success. The Governance and Advisory team took a prudent approach to minimise project costs and risks.

Financial Resources
The cost of OeGAF development awarded to IDA International was USD 1 million. The team felt that this was a reasonable cost as the engaged consultants brought forth their experiences and methodologies.

The OeGAF eKIT was procured with licences for usage and one-year support at a total cost of about USD 99,000.

The OeGAF portal was developed and maintained in-house within ITA.

At a total outlay cost of USD 1.1 million, the OeGAF project was deemed to be well spent.

Technical Resources
A set of shared hardware and system software within ITA was used to host the OeGAF eKIT and portal.

Human Resources
On average, about 4 headcount was spent annually by ITA in managing this project between 2008 and 2011. Over the years, the ITA consultants learned and experienced the complexity of managing and implementing government-wide enterprise architecture.

Approximately 85 members were involved in the OeGAF development; each member spending between a total of 1 and 2 man months. The formation of the working groups resulted in a good networking of government ICT resources where other projects leveraged upon.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
As the enterprise architecture for the Oman Government, OeGAF has to be maintained and updated on a periodic basis. While the one-time development was a massive exercise, OeGAF can be regularly and easily updated by batching up the related technology developments and change requests. New technology standards will be reviewed and updated where necessary. Similarly changes to the Oman Government will be reviewed and updated accordingly. The financial cost to maintain and update OeGAF is low and is definitely sustainable.

With faster pace of Awareness & Alignment Program (A2), more and more government agencies will have sufficient information and expertise to understand OeGAF and comply with the set of standards and best practices. Coupled with the implementation of OeGAF standards for new ICT development and major enhancements, the regulatory controls will only improve over time. Providing awareness and ensuring compliance to OeGAF standards and best practices are part of the on-going exercise which is sustainable.

OeGAF was developed based on TOGAF-ADM. As government-wide enterprise architecture, other governments can refer to OeGAF for their very own development. The design and development principles form the fundamental criteria or structure in an enterprise architecture development. OeGAF has documented key design principles that can be referred and applied for other developments. The experiences gained through the OeGAF project are important learning points that can also be shared.

While OeGAF is the single enterprise architecture for the Oman Government, the team had also created an OeGAF Enterprise Architecture Methodology (EAM) to assist the government agencies in developing their respective enterprise architectures. The EAM provides a framework for building consistent enterprise architectures across government agencies that will be aligned with the overall OeGAF. The team has identified a number of government agencies with matured ICT practices for developing their own enterprise architectures.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
Each time the ICT landscape of a government agency was presented to its management, it was an eye-opener for them as they could relate and understand how their agency supports the relevant government functions, and also how the infrastructure supports the data and applications that enable the automation of the business processes (or the lack of it).

Thus, OeGAF has the following major impacts:

a. Insight to various government decision makers
Each government agency can now relate how it supports the various government functions and who are the other critical agencies that it has to work with. Prior to this, nobody in the government agency has a complete view of how ICT is being used to support their key government functions. From government-wide perspective, OeGAF has identified and recommended a number of initiatives to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Oman Government. One example is the ability to identify government agencies with high impact to the public.

b. Alignment to e.oman national strategy
Through OeGAF, the use of centralised / national projects has been the highest priority to ensure alignment to e.oman. Prior to this, there were a few duplicated projects (such as internet connectivity, data centres, portals and internal code systems).

c. Alignment to technology standards and best practices
Prior to OeGAF, government agencies implemented their own infrastructure and systems which caused interoperability issue – i.e. applications and data are not easily communicated and exchanged. With OeGAF, technology standards, common data and best practices led to interoperability and better integrated Oman Government.

Lessons Learned
It took over 3 years to develop OeGAF and the lessons are:

a. Understand the big problem
At the start, no one understood the big problem. After a detailed study and analysis (as highlighted in question 1 above), ITA realised what was the main issue. In short, it is important to understand the big problem to find the right solution. After much searching and analysing, EA for the whole government was the solution to our big problem.

b. Learn from others
There are numerous methodologies and reports written on enterprise architecture. The team realised it was a steep learning curve and the best approach is to learn from other governments in particular the best practices and to avoid the pitfalls.

c. Teamwork
Another important lesson learnt was teamwork. It was necessary to get the best experts so that the best output can be produced. Members from various agencies were formed into different expert working groups to produce different domains and reference models.

d. Customise solution
Last but not least, it is important to customise the EA into something the Oman Government can use. It was pointless to produce documentation with hundreds of pages that nobody understand nor use. OeGAF was customised so that it can be easily accessed, referred and applied.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Information Technology Authority
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Syed Faruk
Title:   Consultant  
Telephone/ Fax:   +968 24166851 / + 968 24166604
Institution's / Project's Website:
Address:   P.O.Box 1807, Al Athaibah, Sultanate of Oman
Postal Code:  
City:   Muscat
Country:   Oman

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