FBI's IT management comes under fire

A US Department of Justice (DoJ) audit has found "major weaknesses" with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation's management of...

A US Department of Justice (DoJ) audit has found "major weaknesses" with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation's management of IT, despite the obvious need for immediate improvements after the 11 September terrorist attacks and additional funding provided by Congress.

The 178-page report was released after a review by the DoJ, Office of the Inspector General and the government watchdog General Accounting Office (GAO), which conducted 85 interviews with 70 officials and visits to the FBI laboratory and FBI field offices. Two hundred documents also were reviewed.

"The FBI continues to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on IT projects without adequate assurance that these projects will meet their intended goals," the audit found. The FBI has not effectively managed IT investments by putting into place adequate processes, the report said.

The shortcomings were largely the result of the FBI not devoting "sufficient management attention" to IT investments in the past and that failure had carried over.

In January 2002, the agency developed a conceptual model to put into place to improve processes and did some pilot testing of those processes, which led to some improvements.

However, the report said the FBI needed to take further action to develop and implement new IT investment management processes, to education IT program managers and users and to develop project management and enterprise architecture functions.

The audit also found the FBI was lacking in implementation of "Trilogy", its largest and most critical IT project which, as of June last year, had received a total of $458m (£285m) in federal funding, including an additional $78m (£49m) approved by Congress a year ago after the FBI said that it needed more money to push the plan into place more quickly in light of the terrorist attacks.

Deadlines have not been met since then and there is uncertainty regarding the cost, schedule and technical goals of the project, which is meant to provide a basis for the FBI to develop a state-of-the-art IT system, but will not itself put such a system into place.

The agency was supposed to have completed the physical IT infrastructure for its field offices, including new hardware and networks, by last July as part of Trilogy, but FBI officials now say that part of the project will not be done until March.

The audit said there was an "urgent need" for the FBI to develop and implement IT management processes.

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