FBI faces uphill struggle with IT oversight: GAO

The jury is still out on whether FBI is effectively managing its IT procurements, including the $305 million Sentinel program to upgrade case file systems, the Government Accountability Office stated in a newly released letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The letter, "FBI Trilogy: Responses to Post-hearing Questions," offers a summary of GAO officials' efforts to follow up on concerns raised in a oversight hearing the committee conducted May 2. GAO said it is still evaluating FBI's formal response letter dated May 30 to see if the law enforcement agency is following GAO's previous recommendations to improve management controls for IT systems procurements.

The GAO letter describes FBI's IT procurements as still vulnerable to mismanagement.

"Unless FBI strengthens its controls over contractor payments and purchased equipment, future projects, including the new Sentinel project, will be highly vulnerable to the same types of issues that plagued the Trilogy project," Linda Calbom, GAO's director of financial management, wrote to Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., chairman of the Judiciary Committee, June 9.

GAO also is reviewing the Sentinel IT program under development. A contract for Sentinel was awarded to Lockheed Martin Corp. in March.

GAO said it is evaluating FBI's internal controls over contractor invoices and asset accountability for Sentinel. Specific issues to be examined within Sentinel include use of effective methods for acquiring commercial solutions, efforts to align Sentinel with FBI's enterprise architecture and the basis for reliably estimating costs and schedules, Calbom wrote.

Other issues are plans for applying earned value management, provisions for adequate number of procurement staffing to manage the acquisition and relationship to the governmentwide case management line of business.

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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