GAO cites staffing issues with Sentinel

The FBI's Sentinel program for IT modernization needs to be staffed more strategically, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

Sentinel is a key IT program expected to support critical intelligence and investigative missions for the FBI. It was initiated in early 2005 with a six-year budget of $425 million to replace the agency's failed Virtual Case File (VCF) IT program, which was intended to convert millions of paper records into an electronic system.

Among the reasons cited for the demise of VCF were turnover in key staff positions and shortcomings in knowledge and capabilities among the management staff.

To date, the FBI has filled 77 percent of the Sentinel program office positions, mostly with contractor staff, the GAO said. Lockheed Martin Corp. holds a $305 million contract for Sentinel.

However, it is not conducting inventories of staff skills and knowledge, forecasting needed skills, analyzing gaps in knowledge and capabilities, and formulating strategies for filling those gaps, the report indicated.

"Unless the FBI adopts a more strategic approach to managing human capital for the Sentinel program and treats human capital as a program risk, the chances of delivering required intelligence and investigative support capabilities in a timely and cost effective manner are reduced," the GAO wrote.

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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