Fbi Pushed Ahead With Troubled Software
A confidential report to the House Appropriations Committee indicates that the FBI was aware that its $170 million Virtual Case File (VCF) system was highly flawed, but willfully pressed on with a $17 million pilot program last December, even though by then it was obvious that the software would have to be discarded. This was just one of many instances in the course of the VCF’s development in which the bureau knowingly passed up the opportunity to terminate the program before incurring significant financial losses, according to the study.
The case file management system was part of a massive effort to upgrade the FBI’s communications network, and the report signals that some officials noticed problems with the VCF in early 2003, stemming from “contracting and program management oversight;” in December 2003, functional and technical problems were cited when Science Applications International (SAIC) delivered its first batch of software to the bureau.
The FBI had spotted 400 problems by March of last year but did not disclose them to the contractor, while an official in the FBI’s Cyber Division recommended an independent audit to address “serious concerns” about the project’s status.
Some officials say the FBI proceeded with the testing phase of the VCF despite recommendations to jettison the software because the bureau felt it had to show something for its efforts. Complaints from SAIC officials about frequent FBI management turnover and design changes were verified by the House investigation.
FBI officials recently announced that many of the deficiencies outlined in the report will be addressed through a sweeping reorganization of the bureau, and through the use of the Sentinel program based on off-the-shelf software.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Washington Post (06/06/05) P. A1; Eggen, Dan .