Past-Forward: FBI: More Delays and a Jail Sentence

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s technology woes keep coming. The overhaul of the agency’s Trilogy project is running behind schedule again (“FBI: Under the Gun,” Case 088, September 2003).

In December, both Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC) and Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) missed deadlines to implement a key component of Trilogy’s third and final phase. The suppliers were supposed to deliver the Virtual Case File (VCF), an Internet-based system to combine 180 databases and enhance information-sharing among agents. FBI Director Robert Mueller III testified before a Senate subcommittee last month that the VCF project won’t be completed until June and cost overruns will total $50 million more than the original November 2000 $119 million estimate. Mueller also said the CSC contract has been renegotiated to include financial penalties for missed deadlines, and that the FBI also plans to redo its SAIC deal.

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice announced in late February that Narissa Smalls, a legal technician at FBI headquarters in Quantico, Va., pleaded guilty to unlawfully using her position to mine an FBI computer system in the fall of 2002.

Smalls’ job included searching the FBI’s Automated Case Support (ACS) database to help fulfill Freedom of Information Act requests. Instead, she searched pending drug cases for the names of acquaintances and gave them their case files. When the VCF—which is scheduled to replace the ACS—is finally implemented, let’s hope there are security features to prevent similar internal breaches.