FBI stumbled on Trilogy cost oversight: GAO

The FBI paid at least $10.1 million in questionable contractor costs related to its controversial Trilogy IT modernization program, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

For example, in a single invoice for March 2002 from contractor DynCorp, which is now part of Computer Services Corp., the FBI was billed $1.9 million for "other direct costs" with no explanation.

"No additional information was provided on the invoice to explain what made up these costs," the GAO report said.

CSC, of El Segundo, Calif., also billed the FBI for 19 first-class airline tickets costing a total of $20,025, the report said. Because the documentation provided did not contain the required authorizations, the GAO said those charges are potentially unallowable.

The report also takes contractors CSC, Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego and Mitretek Systems Inc. of Falls Church, Va., to task, accusing them of billing for excessive airfare costs.

For CSC, the GAO said it identified 62 questionable "full-fare coach" airfare tickets costing $85,336, which are upgradeable to first class; the GAO compared those to basic coach fares of $41,978 for the same flights. For SAIC and Mitretek, the GAO identified 75 tickets costing $100,847, which it said was twice as much as its own estimate.

Overall, the inadequately supported expenses included $20,000 in first-class travel, $49,000 in other excessive air travel costs, $400,000 in excessive overtime, $2 million in potential labor rate overcharges, $2 million in subcontractor labor costs and $5 million in other direct costs, the GAO wrote.

The FBI's poor management of the Trilogy project also resulted in the loss of more than 1,200 pieces of equipment valued at $7.6 million, the report added.

The GAO blamed weaknesses in the FBI's ability to implement controls to ensure that billings and goods received were appropriate.

"These weaknesses resulted in payment of millions of dollars in questionable contractor costs and missing assets," the report said. "It is imperative that FBI correct these weaknesses in order to avoid similar outcomes for its Sentinel and other IT projects."

While ultimately successful in furnishing updated IT infrastructure and systems, the Trilogy project failed to improve the FBI's investigative applications. The $537 million project was plagued throughout with missed milestones and escalating costs.

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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