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Written by Tyesia P. Alexander, Ph.D. (Email Tyesia.P.Alexander.firstname.lastname@example.org) and John H. Coleman, Ph.D. (Email: John.Coleman@Engility.com)
Edited by Wanda J. Eyre (Email email@example.com) and Claude D. Vance (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Submitted December, 4, 2018
An authoritative source of truth is an entity such as a person, governing body, or system that applies expert judgement and rules to proclaim a digital artifact is valid and originates from a legitimate source.
The authoritative source of truth for a digital artifact serves as the primary means of ensuring the credibility and coherence of the digital artifact that its creators share with a variety of stakeholders. It gives stakeholders from diverse organizations and distributed locations the authorization to access, analyze, and use valid digital artifacts from an authoritative source. The owners of digital environments or the community for digital engineering ecosystems provides stakeholders with appropriate access to shared, current, and consistent information over the lifecycle of systems. The authoritative source of truth assures confidence in the quality of the digital artifact across disciplines, domains, and life cycle phases.
In order to do so, a digital artifact’s authoritative source of truth should meet four conditions. First, the digital artifact originates from a repository recognized by a governing entity as a System of Record (SoR). Second, the majority of experts accepts the credibility, accuracy, and trustworthiness of a digital artifact because it meets their “criteria of truth” . For example, in the Model Based Engineering (MBE) domain, the digital artifact may meet the criteria of truth when most stakeholders agree that the preponderance of evidence upholds the validity of the digital artifact because it represents a commonly accepted perspective of reality . Third, a digital artifact’s source is an authoritative when most experts agree that the source is legitimate. Finally, the digital artifact originates from a technological system that maintains its integrity and reinforces the conditions. If the SoR satisfies the four conditions; then, it is the Authoritative Source of Truth (SoT) for its digital artifact .
An Authoritative Source of Truth (ASoT) architecture provides the framework to ensure the validity and truthfulness of digital artifacts as they are managed throughout their lifecycle and the integrity of the enabling technological systems. According to a presentation by participants of an Air Force Study , the ASoT architecture owners should organize it according to technical platforms or domains and not by specific programs. The platform or domain focus of the ASoT architecture maximizes the usability of the digital artifacts by the communities of practicing engineers . A governing entity that determines Systems of Record (SoRs) does so on the basis of digital artifacts used in its domain. For example, SoRs may include a requirements database, engineering cost data, a model-based systems engineering (MBSE) environment, and computer aided design (CAD) systems for transport aircraft. In order to satisfy the conditions for authority, the ASoT architecture must maintain the integrity of these technological systems in order to ensure that one – and only – one SoR exists for each digital artifact. As such, there is a one-to-many relationship between an ASoT and many digital artifacts.
Many articles define the physical architectures of an authoritative source of truth or some alternative , .  , . The authors summarize many of the alternatives in the Similar Concepts and Definitions section below. Many forms of implementation fall in the categories of centralized, distributed, or federated .
The need to define ASoT for digital artifacts affirms that digital artifacts are not absolute truth. Moreover, most enterprises and ecosystems have no single source for all digital artifacts. Thus, the governance of ASoT must address the many challenges organizations will face when establishing and using an authorized source that relies on systems with relative truths. A key aspect of governance of the authoritative sources of truth is defining the entities that have authority and explicitly specifying what authority those entities possess. Again, an entity may be a person, group, organization, a technology-based system, or any combination thereof. ASoT governance involves identifying which repositories will serve as SoR for what type of digital artifacts and the stewardship of those SoRs. Governance should also determine what types of graphical and non-graphical information for which each SoR will serve as the authoritative source. Ultimately, governance should define the relationship between the SoTs and SoR’s for digital artifacts. It should seek agreement on methods for establishing SoTs with truthful, high quality and accurate digital artifact holdings. The governance should create rules to establish and distinguish the originator, owner, or steward of the digital artifacts and ASoT. It needs to define methods of identifying and restricting “rogue sources” of digital artifacts. Governance needs to establish means for stakeholders to get access to the authoritative source of truth for the digital artifacts they need in order to perform their assigned responsibilities. These are but a few of the challenges the governance for the ASoT must resolve.
Authoritative Source of Information as stated by USLegal.com gives the following description:
Single Source of Truth as stated by J. Spacey gives the following description:
Master Data Management as stated by the Gartner Company gives the following description:
Data Federation Software as stated by TechTarget.com gives the following description:
System of Record (SOR) as stated by WhatIs.com gives the following description:
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