"I find it intriguing to read the perspectives on enterprise architecture within our federal government and wonder when they will start borrowing practices of large enterprises and move away from their savage pursuit of comprehensive documentation of nebulous value?"
There is a reason for their "savage pursuit" of "comprehensive documentation," and while I offer explanations as to how this came about, I'll leave it to the readership to comment.
Simply put: it's mandated by law, specifically the Information Technology Reform Act of 1996, more commonly referred to now as the Clinger-Cohen Act, after the bill's congressional authors (full text of the Act here). Government IT executives do not have a choice here, they must comply or face various sanctions. The level of compliance by any particular government agency is an open issue, but suffice it to say that unless they want an inquisition from the Inspector General's office, most agency IT honchos are going to, at the very least, give the impression that they are complying.
In addition to mandating the CIO position for agencies, there is buried in Section 5125(d) the following:
d) INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY ARCHITECTURE DEFINED- In this section,
the term `information technology architecture', with respect to an
executive agency, means an integrated framework for evolving or
maintaining existing information technology and acquiring new
information technology to achieve the agency's strategic goals and
information resources management goals.
And there you have it folks - if you're in the United States gummint', you will use a framework, no ifs, ands, or buts because it's in the law. Of course, as with any law, there are waivers and exceptions available, but the bar for those is set very, very high - as in the sky had better be falling or terrorists recently striking on the homeland, that sort of thing. In other words for most federal IT work, fat chance of that.
Another item of interest is who provided key testimony to congressional committees back in the day when this bill was on its way to becoming law. If you guessed John Zachman, give yourself a pat on the back. Funny how all of this works, you think?