The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Pre-Acquisition Planning for
and Controls Over the Sentinel Case Management System

Audit Report 06-14
March 2006
Office of the Inspector General

Appendix 3

Prior Reports on the FBI's
Information Technology

Below is a listing of relevant reports discussing the FBI's information technology systems. These include reports issued by the Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General (OIG), the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and by other external entities as well as FBI internal reports.

External Reports on FBI Case Management Efforts

In February 2005, the OIG issued a report entitled, The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Management of the Trilogy Information Technology Management Project, which encompassed Sentinel's predecessor, the Virtual Case File (VCF). The OIG recommended the FBI take the following steps:

  • Replace the obsolete ACS system as quickly and as cost effectively as feasible.

  • Reprogram FBI resources to meet the critical need for a functional case management system.

  • Freeze the critical design requirements for the case management system before initiating a new contract and ensure that the contractor fully understands the requirements and has the capability to meet them.

  • Incorporate development efforts for the VCF into the development of the requirements for any successor case management system.

  • Validate and improve as necessary financial systems for tracking project costs to ensure complete and accurate data.

  • Develop policies and procedures to ensure that future contracts for IT-related projects include defined requirements, progress milestones, and penalties for deviations from the baselines.

  • Establish management controls and accountability to ensure that baselines for the remainder of the current user applications contract and any successor Trilogy-related contracts are met.

  • Apply ITIM processes to all Trilogy-related and any successor projects.

  • Monitor the Enterprise Architecture being developed to ensure timely completion as scheduled.

The report concluded that the difficulties experienced in completing the Trilogy project were partially attributable to: (1) design modifications the FBI made as a result of refocusing its mission from traditional criminal investigations to preventing terrorism, (2) poor management decisions early in the project, (3) inadequate project oversight, (4) a lack of sound IT investment practices, and (5) not applying lessons learned over the course of the project.

The National Research Council issued a report in May 2004 entitled A Review of the FBI's Trilogy Information Technology Modernization Program. The report found that the program was not on a path to success, and identified the following needs:

  • valid contingency plan for transitioning from the old case management system to the new one,

  • completed Enterprise Architecture,

  • adequate time for testing the new system prior to deployment,

  • improved contract management processes, and

  • expanded IT human resources base.

The report concluded that the FBI had made significant progress in some areas of its IT modernization efforts, such as the modernization of the computing hardware and baseline software and the deployment of its networking infrastructure. However, because the FBI's IT infrastructure was inadequate in the past, there was still an enormous gap between the FBI's IT capabilities and the capabilities that were urgently needed.

The report was updated in June 2004 as a result of what the Council deemed clear evidence of progress being made by the FBI to move ahead in its IT modernization program. This included the appointment of a permanent CIO and the formation of a staffed program office for improved IT contract management. The progress being made by the FBI appeared to the Council to have been more rapid than expected, although many challenges remained. The Council also emphasized that the FBI's missions constitute increasingly information-intensive challenges, and the ability to integrate and exploit rapid advances in IT capabilities will only become more critical with time. The update concluded that even with perfect program management and execution, substantial IT expenses on an ongoing basis are inevitable and must be anticipated in the budget process if the FBI is to maximize the operational leverage that IT offers.

In September 2004, the GAO issued a report entitled, Information Technology: Foundational Steps Being Taken to Make Needed FBI Systems Modernization Management Improvements. This report stated that although improvements were under way and more were planned, the FBI did not have an integrated plan for modernizing its IT systems. Each of the FBI's divisions and other organizational units that manage IT projects performs integrated planning for its respective IT projects. However, the plans did not provide a common, authoritative, and integrated view of how IT investments will help optimize mission performance, and they did not consistently contain the elements expected to be found in effective systems modernization plans. The GAO recommended that the FBI limit its near-term investments in IT systems until the FBI developed an integrated systems and modernization plan and effective policies and procedures for systems acquisition and investment management. Additionally, the GAO recommended that the FBI's CIO be provided with the responsibility and authority to effectively manage IT FBI-wide.

In April 2005, the House Surveys and Investigations staff issued A Report to the Committee on Appropriations, U.S. House of Representatives, which concluded the following.

  • VCF development suffered from a lack of program management expertise, disciplined systems engineering practices, and contract management. The project also was affected by a high turnover of Chief Information Officers and program managers.

  • VCF development was negatively impacted by the FBI's lack of an empowered and centralized Office of Chief Information Officer and sound business processes by which IT projects are managed.

  • The FBI's decision to terminate VCF was related to deficiencies in the VCF product delivered, failure of a pilot project to meet user needs, and the new direction the FBI planned to take for its case management system.

  • The FBI's IT program management business structure and processes were, for the most part, in place, although some of these processes needed to mature.

FBI Internal Reports on Case Management

The FBI hired the Aerospace Corporation to perform an assessment of Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) and Government Off-the-Shelf (GOTS) systems that could be used in developing a case management system and also an Independent Verification and Validation of Trilogy's Virtual Case File. In December 2004, the contractor issued the COTS/GOTS Trade Study, which recommended that the FBI look to systems that have an emphasis on data sharing. The contractor further recommended that an acquisition strategy be developed that includes an incremental deployment of core capabilities and the incremental addition of such components as intelligent search and reporting and specific analytic capabilities.

The contractor released the Independent Verification and Validation of the Trilogy Virtual Case File, Delivery 1: Final Report in January 2005. The report recommended discarding the VCF and starting over with a COTS-based solution. The contractor concluded that a lack of effective engineering discipline had led to inadequate specification, design, and development of VCF. Further, the contractor could find no assurance that the architecture, concept of operations and requirements were correct or complete, and no assurance that they could be made so without substantial rework. In sum, the contractor reported that VCF was a system whose true capability was unknown, and whose capability may remain unknown without substantial time and resources applied to remediation.

Other OIG Reports on the FBI's IT

OIG reports issued over the past 15 years have highlighted issues concerning the FBI's utilization of IT, including its investigative systems. In 1990, the OIG issued a report entitled The FBI's Automatic Data Processing General Controls. This report described 11 internal control weaknesses and found that:

  • The FBI's phased implementation of its 10-year Long Range Automation Strategy, scheduled for completion in 1990, was severely behind schedule and may not be accomplished;

  • The FBI's Information Resources Management program was fragmented and ineffective, and the FBI's Information Resources Management official did not have effective organization-wide authority;

  • The FBI had not developed and implemented a data architecture; and

  • The FBI's major mainframe investigative systems were labor intensive, complex, untimely, and non-user friendly and few agents used these systems.

The OIG's July 1999 special report, The Handling of FBI Intelligence Information Related to the Justice Department's Campaign Finance Investigation, stated that FBI personnel were not well-versed in the ACS system and other databases. Additionally, a November 1999 OIG report entitled A Review of the Justice Department's Handling of the Death of Kenneth Michael Trentadue at the Bureau of Prison's Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City, noted deficiencies in uploading key evidence into the ACS.

A March 2002 OIG report entitled, An Investigation of the Belated Production of Documents in the Oklahoma City Bombing Case, analyzed the causes for the FBI's belated delivery of many documents in the Oklahoma City bombing case. This report concluded that the ACS system was extraordinarily difficult to use, had significant deficiencies, and was not the vehicle for moving the FBI into the 21 century. The report noted that inefficiencies and complexities in the ACS, combined with the lack of a true information management system, were contributing factors in the FBI's failure to provide hundreds of investigative documents to the defendants in the Oklahoma City bombing case.

In May 2002, the OIG issued a report on the FBI's administrative and investigative mainframe systems entitled the Independent Evaluation Pursuant to the Government Information Security Reform Act, Fiscal Year 2002. The report identified continued vulnerabilities with management, operational, and technical controls within the FBI. The report stated that these vulnerabilities occurred because the Department and FBI security management had not enforced compliance with existing security policies, developed a complete set of policies to effectively secure the administrative and investigative mainframes, or held FBI personnel responsible for timely correction of recurring findings. Further, the report stated that FBI management had been slow to correct identified weaknesses and implement corrective action and, as a result, many of these deficiencies repeated year after year in subsequent audits.

In December 2002, the OIG issued a report on The FBI's Management of Information Technology Investments, which included a case study of the Trilogy project. The report made 30 recommendations, 8 of which addressed the Trilogy project. The report's focus was on the need to adopt sound investment management practices as recommended by the GAO. The report also stated that the FBI did not fully implement the management processes associated with successful IT investments. Specifically, the FBI had failed to implement the following critical processes:

  • defining and developing IT investment boards,

  • following a disciplined process of tracking and overseeing each project's cost and schedule milestones over time,

  • identifying existing IT systems and projects,

  • identifying the business needs for each IT project, and

  • using defined processes to select new IT project proposals.

The audit found that the lack of critical IT investment management processes for Trilogy contributed to missed milestones and led to uncertainties about cost, schedule, and technical goals.

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