FBI needs more help for Sentinel: Justice IG

The project manager for the FBI's upcoming Sentinel case management system needs to hire an additional 24 employees as soon as possible to handle the demands of the projected $400 million to $500 million procurement, according to recommendations in a new report from the Justice Department inspector general's office.

High turnover and short staffing were among the factors that led to poor management of the $170 million Trilogy case management system that was cancelled by the FBI in March 2005.

With Sentinel, the FBI has improved its management processes and enterprise architecture and, in the pre-acquisition phase, has adequately planned for the Sentinel project, the inspector general said.

However, there are ongoing concerns about incomplete staffing of the Sentinel project manager's office, Sentinel's ability to share information with other federal agencies' case management systems and the FBI's ability to reprogram funds for Sentinel without jeopardizing mission-critical programs, among others.

For example, as of Jan. 30, the Sentinel project manager's office had filled only 51 of the 76 positions needed for full staffing.

"In light of the FBI's aggressive development and deployment schedule for Sentinel, it is critical for the FBI to fully staff the Project Manager's Office as soon as possible," the report said.

"In our opinion, the significant turnover of project management during the Trilogy project?15 different key IT managers over the course of its life, including 10 individuals serving as project managers for various aspects of Trilogy?was a major reason for Trilogy's problems," the report added.

The FBI intends to implement Sentinel in four overlapping phases, with the entire project to be finished by 2009.

As part of its oversight, the FBI is requiring bidders to have an independent appraisal certifying that their systems development, software engineering and integration is at Level 3 or higher on the Carnegie-Mellon University Capability Maturity Model Integration scale. The requirement covers all vendors and subcontractors that will contribute a minimum of 10 percent of the total Sentinel effort in developing or integrating software.

Lockheed Martin Corp. of Bethesda, Md. is expected to be named as the prime contractor shortly.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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