Reference Architecture Template

The reference architecture (RA) template is designed to aid the development of reference architecture artifacts to support interoperability. For each of the Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework common approach (CA) domains, the template is a guide to the relevant interoperability requirements and artifacts to be incorporated for interoperability. The template details interoperability goals in each of the domains, as well as instructions for template usage.

The RA template contains an overview of the interoperability goals for each CA domain and the objectives of the artifacts within the domain. Within each domain listed, the RA template provides an overview of the information to be included in each artifact, and instructions on how to develop each interoperability artifact. Each domain is divided into subsets of the domain: for example, the CA business domain is divided into business processes; business models, mission exchange processes, diagrams and flows, other considerations, etc.

In addition, the RA template has been integrated with the Architecture Framework Alignment Grid with mnemonics mapping each item in the template to the applicable artifact reference in the Grid. When used in conjunction with the Architecture Framework Alignment Grid, the architecture framework can be updated to include interoperability in each domain.

Annually, OMB will receive business and technology architecture information from each department or agency in the form of a high-level, integrated description of the agency’s IT-related strategic goals, business objectives, and enabling IT capabilities to include roadmaps. By leveraging the interoperability baseline provided by the Enterprise Architecture Maturity Measurement Template, OMB can more easily understand the departments’ and agencies’ progress towards integrating interoperability requirements into their existing architectures while improving their abilities to fulfill strategic priorities.


The intent of the Reference Architecture Template is to provide those building specific mission reference architectures with a mission agnostic approach that will result in an enhanced interoperable reference architecture which is specific to a mission when context is applied. In addition, this template can be used with existing reference architectures to plan for improving interoperability maturity based on the results of the Interoperability Maturity Model. This mission agnostic approach is meant to provide key elements and concepts needed to be addressed to make these resulting architectures interoperable.

According to the DoD Reference Architecture Description document, a common theme among the definitions is that the primary purpose of a Reference Architecture is to guide and constrain the instantiations of solution architectures. In addition, a Reference Architecture should:

  • Provide common language for the various stakeholders;

  • Provide consistency of technology implementation to solve problems;

  • Support the validation of solutions against proven Reference Architecture; and

  • Encourage adherence to common standards, specifications, and patterns.

In general, a Reference Architecture is an authoritative source of information about a specific subject or mission area that guides and constrains the instantiations of multiple architectures and solutions.

Structure and Method

The Reference Architecture Template provides the key elements, aligned to the Common Approach to Federal Enterprise Architecture domains: Business, Infrastructure, Data, Application/Service, Security, and Performance domains, to which the concepts of interoperability are applied.

How to Use this Template

The Common Approach is divided into topic areas within each domain in order to further aid the reference architecture builders in bringing in the right resource expertise when needed. The elements and concepts spelled out are not meant to be exhaustive in nature but used as a guide in building out mission specific reference architectures to be more interoperable within their larger enterprises. In addition, mnemonics are used in this template that map back to the Architecture Framework Alignment Grid as an aid in generating the required architecture artifacts.

Each domain section has “Overview,” “Objective of the Architecture,” and “Key Focus Areas” explanation paragraphs that apply specifically to the domain section. The purpose of the paragraphs is to give guidance as to context to be focused on when developing the reference architectures within each of the domains.

The impetus of the template is the domain topic areas that contain elements and concepts to be considered when generating the mission specific reference architectures. The reference architect should approach each domain and examine how the listed elements and concepts apply to their specific mission context. In addition, please reference the Architecture Framework Mapping Grid for further guidance on which artifacts to build using this template as guidance.