Computer Woes Hinder Fbi’s Work, Report Says
Inspector General Glenn Fine of the Justice Department reported yesterday that the FBI’s crime prevention operations are significantly impeded because its current IT systems do not allow agents to adequately share information, while costly attempts to upgrade those systems may have to be jettisoned due to bad planning and flawed management.
The FBI admitted last month that the latest version of the $170 million Virtual Case File system, designed to let agents handle almost all documents electronically, is already obsolete and is likely to be scrapped before deployment.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee that “escalating costs, imprecise planning, mismanagement, implementation concerns and delays” were responsible for the bureau’s botched tech overhaul, and criticized the FBI for not being more up-front with Congress about the problems.
Officials with Science Applications International, the company contracted by the FBI to design the Virtual Case File software, said the project was plagued by management turnover and frequent design changes from the bureau, which Fine’s report verified.
FBI director Robert Mueller III acknowledged at the Senate hearing that the delayed computerized case-file system is frustrating, but disputed Fine’s assertions that agents’ job performance is suffering. He argued that the lack of such a system “does not prevent us from fulfilling our counterterrorism, intelligence and law enforcement missions.”
He also said that not all of the $170 million Virtual Case File investment will be written off if the project is scrapped, as some $66 million has either not been spent or channeled into products with other applications.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Washington Post (02/04/05) P. A15; Eggen, Dan .