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3/27/2012
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FBI CIO Exits, With Sentinel Project Nearly Done

Chad Fulgham, a former Wall Street tech exec, says software development for FBI's delayed Sentinel case-management system is now complete.

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FBI CIO Chad Fulgham, who has overseen the agency's Sentinel case-management project for the past three years, plans to leave the agency in April to return to the private sector. Sentinel is due for completion within the next few months.

Fulgham joined the agency in August 2008 from the private sector, where he worked as senior VP of IT for Lehman Brothers and, before that, at IBM and JP Morgan Chase. A 1996 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Fulgham served five years in the Navy before going to work on Wall Street.

At the FBI, Fulgham drove several initiatives to upgrade the agency's aging IT infrastructure, replacing old PCs and desktop applications with new machines and Microsoft's latest collaboration tools, and deploying to a Cisco-based IP network. He reorganized the FBI's Information and Technology Branch to make it more business aligned and services oriented. FBI director Robert Mueller, in a statement on Fulgham's departure, credits his "corporate-style management."

[ Watch your step on Facebook--the FBI might be reading. See FBI Seeks Data-Mining App for Social Media. ]

Fulgham's biggest challenge has been an expensive, long-term project to replace the agency's outdated paper-based case management processes with a new digital case-management system called Sentinel. In March 2006, the FBI awarded a $305 million contract to Lockheed Martin to lead development of Sentinel, with completion planned for 2009.

But Sentinel, amid repeated delays, fell behind schedule and its budget grew to $451 million. In September 2010, Fulgham decided to bring the project in house, reduce Lockheed's role, and use internal resources and agile development methodology to hasten its completion. At the time, he aimed to complete the project by September 2011.

A test of the system last fall, however, revealed "significant" performance issues, which were attributed to overburdened legacy hardware, according to a report by the Inspector General. As a result, the FBI was forced to acquire new servers capable of handling the workload.

In the statement announcing Fulgham's departure, the FBI said Sentinel is now slated to begin operating this summer. "The software coding is done, the new hardware is in place, and it has been quite impressive during initial performance testing," Fulgham said in the statement.

Sentinel promises to improve case management at the FBI by introducing digital records and automated workflow. It's being closely watched because it represents a shift from the kind of multi-year software development projects that were common in federal agencies in the past to an approach that emphasizes near-term deliverables and regular adjustments.

As federal agencies embrace devices and apps to meet employee demand, the White House seeks one comprehensive mobile strategy. Also in the new Going Mobile issue of InformationWeek Government: Find out how the National Security Agency is developing technologies to make commercial devices suitable for intelligence work. (Free registration required.)

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FTHIS000
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FTHIS000,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/16/2012 | 7:45:23 PM
re: FBI CIO Exits, With Sentinel Project Nearly Done
What does a developer's rate have anything to do with quality?

IBM charged their "premium rates" ($300+ an hour) and what of it?

So did Lockheed. So did those HPTi idiots.
FTHIS000
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FTHIS000,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/16/2012 | 7:41:24 PM
re: FBI CIO Exits, With Sentinel Project Nearly Done
Hardware was never the issue, so please don't point the finger there if you never worked on the project. It's a software disaster. Can you believe that the entire codebase was essentially scrapped in 2010 to begin anew? All of the documentum/rcs backend was thrown out. Lockheed deserves much of the blame, but so does the FBI for throwing millions at this project from the outset instead of growing the thing.
Honest Broker
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Honest Broker,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/29/2012 | 4:43:54 PM
re: FBI CIO Exits, With Sentinel Project Nearly Done
Poorly written software is one of the biggest factors on performance.
Honest Broker
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Honest Broker,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/29/2012 | 3:03:56 PM
re: FBI CIO Exits, With Sentinel Project Nearly Done
As the program has yet to deliver, the belief that FBI is out of the woods is a bit premature. Studies by Gartner and others tell us that s/w development if very high risk (63% failures in industry and 84% failure rates in govt), regardless of what new buzz work method is employed (Agile, Scrum, etc). As with all government agencies, the FBI will lack access to the high quality developers who demand premium rates ($500/hr plus). The reason that FBI has failed twice is because their suppliers are forced to deliver low cost developers who are inexperienced.

FBI would have had a working system by now had they not followed the design to spec weapon systems approach perpetuated by our FFRDCs (Mitre), which both violates FAR restrictions onFFRDCs providing a commercial service and Clinger Cohen Act directive requiring that COTS be favored over custom development. Aerospace Corp, another FFRDC, found three COTS Case File Solutions that could have been modified for a fraction of the $700M already spent. Mark my words, FBI will fail again, but Chad will have already washed his hands of this mess. Very timely departure if you ask me.
Andrew Hornback
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Andrew Hornback,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/27/2012 | 11:17:58 PM
re: FBI CIO Exits, With Sentinel Project Nearly Done
It's nice to see the FBI leading the way with implementing an Agile-type methodology towards IT projects

As far as the system's performance falling short in fall 2011, that's somewhat understandable, especially if the hardware was specified back in 2006 - most corporate entities have a 3 year technology refresh cycle.

Andrew Hornback
InformationWeek Contributor
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