Controversy slows upgrade of terrorist data bank

A major effort to upgrade intelligence computers that hold the government's master list of terrorist identities is embroiled in controversy about the project's management and the work of contractors hired for the job, the Washington Post reports.

The Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, or TIDE, functions as the central repository of information for about 400,000 suspected terrorists around the globe. Operating at the National Counterterrorism Center, TIDE and other systems each day deliver files of information to watch-list programs that screen people traveling into the United States.

Two years ago, authorities launched Railhead, a project worth as much as $500 million over five years, to improve TIDE and eventually replace it and some related systems with technology that would significantly expand their capabilities. Contractors Boeing Co. and SRI International have key roles on the project.

After more than a year and about $100 million, the Railhead project has become the focus of criticism from some counterterrorism analysts and contractors, who have said it does not provide the search capabilities they expected and may be behind schedule, the newspaper reports. Officials at the counterterrorism center call the allegations untrue.

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