F.B.I. May Scrap Vital Overhaul of Its Outdated Computer System

14 Jan ’05

In what has to be the poster child case for large IT system design and acquisition gone awry, the NYT is reporting that the FBI is considering abandoning its $170 million overhaul that officials have previously described as critical to US domestic security.  Money quote:

But the F.B.I’s "virtual case file" system, the last in a three-part computer upgrade totaling more than half a billion dollars, has proved the most difficult. The system was designed to give the bureau’s nearly 12,000 agents around the country instant access to F.B.I. databases, allowing speedier investigations and better integration of information both within the bureau and with other intelligence agencies that must coordinate national security matters.

But the project is over budget and behind schedule, and F.B.I. officials acknowledged on Thursday that they were uncertain whether it would ever be completed. Only about 10 percent of the project, delivered by the Science Applications International Corporation of San Diego, is now in use, officials said.

A draft report from the Justice Department’s inspector general, first reported last month by the industry publication Government Computer News and again on Thursday by The Los Angeles Times, concluded that the case file system as now designed and conceived would not work and could not be put into use.

The Register editorializes here.

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