Troubled FBI IT Project Should Go Forward Despite Planning Shortcomings - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
News

Troubled FBI IT Project Should Go Forward Despite Planning Shortcomings

The project is at risk because the FBI lacks a solid IT architecture plan, but it's also too important to wait, says a Government Accountability Office official

The FBI should proceed with its Sentinel case-management system even if it doesn't yet have a complete IT architecture plan in place, even though that might cause problems in deployment, a letter released Thursday from a congressional auditor says.

"Certain urgent and compelling mission needs will necessitate acquiring system capabilities at the same time architectures are being developed," Randolph Hite, director of IT architecture and systems issues at the Government Accountability Office, wrote in a letter to Rep. Frank Wolf, the Virginia Republican who chairs the House Subcommittee on Science, the Departments of State, Justice, and Commerce, and Related Agencies.

Wolf had asked the GAO, in a follow-up to testimony given Sept. 14, whether the FBI should proceed with the new case-management system if enterprise architecture deficiencies exist.

In writing that the FBI should proceed with Sentinel, Hite cautioned that problems likely will surface because of a lack of an enterprise architecture plan: "A key to dealing with this practical reality is recognizing that doing so increases the risk of deploying systems that are duplicative, not well integrated, and unnecessarily costly to operate and interface."

Hite, writing to the Wolf, reiterated previous GAO positions in responding to the congressman's queries:

  • "The absence of performance-based contracting and effective contractor tracking and oversight has constrained the FBI's ability to effectively manage and oversee its EA contractor. More specifically, it has inhibited the bureau's ability to adequately define product quality expectations, which in turn increases the chances that delivered products will require rework."

  • "The FBI has been challenged in its ability to retain individuals in senior IT positions. ... A recent assessment of the FBI's human capital efforts by the National Academy of Public Administration states that the bureau still faces challenges in this area, including establishing an overall strategy for unifying the various FBI leadership development and other human capital initiatives and developing and implementing a strategic process to plan for intermediate and long-term leadership and workforce needs."

  • "Four of five key [IT] architect positions were vacant. According to bureau officials, the absence of these key staff was hampering their architecture development efforts. Bureau officials told us that job announcements had been issued for the four key architect positions, but it had been difficult finding the right candidates."

  • "The bureau has yet to create an integrated plan of action that is based on a comprehensive analysis of human capital roles and responsibilities needed to support the IT functions established under the office of the CIO's reorganization. ... According to the CIO, he is in the process of hiring a contractor with human capital expertise to help identify gaps between existing and needed skills and abilities and intends to have this effort completed, including the development of an implementation plan to address any gaps, by the end of 2005."

    Sentinel is an electronic information-management system under development that's designed to help the bureau leverage newer, standardized IT. Sentinel will test more than whether the FBI can finally get the file-sharing ability envisioned for the abandoned Virtual Case File project. It also will reveal whether the FBI's efforts in recent years to create a better-run IT department and a modern IT platform have worked. CIO Zalmai Azmi sees Sentinel--the FBI's first software platform built on a Web-friendly, service-oriented IT architecture--as nothing short of a way for the bureau to finally break free from the shackles of its outmoded IT systems.

    We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
    Comment  | 
    Print  | 
    More Insights
  • State of the Cloud
    State of the Cloud
    Cloud has drastically changed how IT organizations consume and deploy services in the digital age. This research report will delve into public, private and hybrid cloud adoption trends, with a special focus on infrastructure as a service and its role in the enterprise. Find out the challenges organizations are experiencing, and the technologies and strategies they are using to manage and mitigate those challenges today.
    Commentary
    Study Proposes 5 Primary Traits of Innovation Leaders
    Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  11/8/2019
    Slideshows
    Top-Paying U.S. Cities for Data Scientists and Data Analysts
    Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  11/5/2019
    Slideshows
    10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2020
    Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  11/1/2019
    Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
    Video
    Current Issue
    Getting Started With Emerging Technologies
    Looking to help your enterprise IT team ease the stress of putting new/emerging technologies such as AI, machine learning and IoT to work for their organizations? There are a few ways to get off on the right foot. In this report we share some expert advice on how to approach some of these seemingly daunting tech challenges.
    White Papers
    Slideshows
    Twitter Feed
    Sponsored Live Streaming Video
    Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
    Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
    Sponsored Video
    Flash Poll