SAIC rejects Trilogy criticism

Science Applications International Corp. today rejected criticism that it botched a $170 million IT upgrade project with the FBI, saying the company has performed well and that the FBI is partly to blame for problems.

The FBI is considering abandoning the Virtual Case File system, awarded to SAIC in 2001, due to missed deadlines, cost overruns and program snafus. The project is part of the FBI's Trilogy program to modernize its IT systems. The law enforcement agency will make a final decision after Aerospace Corp., an El Segundo, Calif., company that specializes in technical research and development for space programs, conducts an evaluation of the system.

"The FBI modernization effort involved a massive technological and cultural change agency-wide," said Duane Andrews, SAIC's chief operating officer. "Unfortunately, implementing this change on the Trilogy contract has been difficult to do without impacts to cost and schedule. To add to that complexity, in the time that SAIC has been working on the Trilogy project, the FBI has had four different CIOs and 14 different managers. Establishing and setting system requirements in this environment has been incredibly challenging."

The FBI switched the focus of the project and changed the systems requirements, SAIC said. For instance, the Virtual Case File originally was intended to support the FBI's criminal case management, but the agency broadened its focus after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks from criminal investigation and prosecution to one that included terrorist investigation and deterrence, the company said. This change in focus prompted changes in the Virtual Case File's requirements, the company said.

SAIC's Andrews statement was prompted by recent criticism by lawmakers following a report in Government Computer News about the program. A draft report from Justice Department's inspector general said the FBI is planning to start a new case-management initiative called the Federal Investigative Case Management System to replace Virtual Case File.

Government Computer News is owned by PostNewsweek Tech Media, which also owns Washington Technology.

The Virtual Case File was designed to provide FBI agents with quick information-sharing capabilities and instant access to case-management databases.

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