Auditors slam FBI's case management system

The Justice Department's Inspector General Ofice has concluded that the FBI's Virtual Case File project?on which the bureau has spent almost $170 million since June 2001?won't succeed.

Instead, the FBI plans to launch a new case management project named the Federal Investigative Case Management System to replace VCF, according to a draft report from the Justice IG.

"The current VCF application will not meet the FBI's needs," the draft report said. "The FBI has no clear timetable or prospect for completing VCF," according to the report draft dated Dec. 20.

An FBI spokeswoman confirmed that she had received a copy of the draft report. The bureau did not have any immediate response to the report.

According to the IG's staff, the VCF project helped the bureau define its user requirements for a case management system. However, IG analysts concluded that the FICMS project is "unlikely to benefit substantially from the Virtual Case File [project] from a technical or engineering standpoint."

The draft report stated that technological developments since the beginning of the case management project in mid-2001 and the FBI's approach of adapting older systems to provide VCF components would prevent the bureau from applying VCF technology to the planned FICMS system.

According to the report, the bureau's IT leadership holds that about 80 percent of the FBI's case management needs are consistent with those of other agencies, which makes a flagship case management system such as FICMS feasible.

The FBI likely will conduct the procurement for the FICMS in 2005 and will rely on commercial or existing government-owned systems to provide major components of the system.

FBI planners expect FICMS eventually to become the case management system for the entire federal law enforcement community, which includes about 40 agencies, according to the report. Bureau planners expect that other agencies will help pay for FICMS, according to the draft IG report.

Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego now is building a version of VCF known as VCF-Initial Operational Capability, which the bureau plans to field to about 250 total users by February. The VCF-IOC project will provide metrics that will be valuable to the bureau's IT planners as they plan the next-generation federal case management system, the IG report said.

VCF-IOC will help test a limited version of the paper flow feature that VCF originally was to have implemented, according to the report.

VCF forms one-third of the bureau's $581 million Trilogy technology project. Other elements of Trilogy have involved the deployment of tens of thousands of PCs and fielding new networks linking FBI offices.

The bureau overhauled the VCF project last summer following cost overruns and schedule delays in the case management program. The FBI completed renegotiating its VCF contract with SAIC this fall.

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