by CIO Staff

FBI Outlines $425M Computer Overhaul

Mar 17, 20063 mins
Data Center

On Thursday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced details of its planned $425 million electronic case-management system overhaul, pledging not to fall victim to the management and technical issues that doomed previous efforts, the Washington Post reports.

Lockheed Martin has been named the primary contractor, and as such it will receive $305 million of the more than $400 million budget, the rest of which will largely be devoted to internal project management and other FBI operations, according to the Post.

Zalmai Azmi, the FBI’s chief information officer, said secure Web access would be available to all bureau agents within a year and that the entire initiative would be completed by late 2009, the Post reports.

The overhaul, called Sentinel, is the most recent effort in a chain of failed attempts to modernize the bureau’s antiquated computer system. The commission that researched the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks named the FBI’s outdated computer system as a weakness, and it may have led to some of the oversights prior to those attacks, according to the Post.

The third and final phase of the earlier Trilogy project—the Virtual Case File—failed due to budget overages and management issues, but not before the FBI sank some $170 million into the project, which yielded little more than hardware upgrades and thousands of new PCs, the Post reports.

On Monday, the Department of Justice’s inspector general issued a report warning that the FBI faces similar budgetary and oversight issues with Sentinel. For more, check out FBI Computer Overhaul Faces Cost Hurdles.

According to the Post, Azmi told reporters on Thursday the bureau plans to combat these issues with a stringent system of audits, external oversight reviews and various budget controls.

“We have a number of controls in place to ensure that this program is not following in Trilogy’s footsteps,” Azmi said, according to the Post.

Computer Sciences Corp. and CACI International are both members of the Lockheed Martin team working on the overhaul, and both were also involved in project Trilogy; however, Science Applications International, Trilogy’s main contractor, will not play a part in Sentinel, the Post reports.

Lockheed Martin Information Technology President Linda Gooden is “confident that the FBI has instituted the appropriate checks and balances” to avoid another Trilogy-like failure, according to the Post, and she said company compensation would be performance-based.

Lockheed will manage the program for two years after the new system is functional to help the agency make its transition, according to the Post.

For related CIO content, read Why the G-Men Aren’t IT Men.

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