New FBI CIO faces critics and IT revamp

FBI's Mark Tanner moves into the deputy CIO spot; he says funding is in place for the $379 million Trilogy program, a case management system.

Data mining, sharing and warehousing are top priorities

Darwin A. John will take over a massive upgrade of the FBI's much-criticized IT shop as the bureau's new CIO.

FBI director Robert S. Mueller III last week named John, who also faces the challenge of working with the new Homeland Security Department. The bureau will add the department to its roster of intelligence customers.

John follows Robert Dies, the agency's former CIO who retired earlier this year, and information resources manager Mark Tanner, who served as acting CIO and becomes deputy CIO.

John has been managing director of information and communication systems worldwide for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City since 1990. In that job, he led construction of a genealogy Web site that went live in 1999 and has averaged nearly 8 million hits daily against 900 million names in the system, the FBI said.

He will assume his duties this week and report directly to Mueller, Tanner said.
The FBI has faced withering criticism from the Justice Department inspector general, lawmakers and others for failing to replace its antiquated computers. The bureau has fielded thousands of new PCs to agents and is building a new case management system called Trilogy that will help agents coordinate their data.

Ten-year-old IT

The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts plans to conduct hearings on the bureau's IT problems. The hearings will focus on how the bureau is approaching the law enforcement problems of 2002 with technology from 1992, according to a subcommittee staff member.

Tanner said the FBI would continue its infrastructure modernization projects, including the $379 million Trilogy program and projects to implement data mining and data warehousing technology.

'Funding is in place for Trilogy,' Tanner said.

So far, the bureau has fielded new PCs at its 56 field offices, though Tanner declined to say how much of the PC acquisition and deployment project has been completed.

Materials management

Trilogy's prime contractor, Science Applications International Corp., is on track to create the Virtual Case File component of Trilogy that will let FBI agents store and share investigative materials online, and monitor when and by whom case records are accessed.

'Off-the-shelf products will be integrated as much as possible,' Tanner said. 'There will be little custom code-writing.'

The FBI still is refining the requirements for the Virtual Case File system, which is scheduled for completion in 2004, Tanner said.

The new file system will be more difficult to implement than the project to field PCs with standard Microsoft productivity software, which the agency is carrying out now, he said.

Old ways are best

The bureau has not developed new methods of sharing data with the planned Homeland Security Department, Tanner said.

But the new department 'will have the computers of the agencies that make it up,' including the Customs Service, Immigration and Naturalization Service and Coast Guard'all of them agencies with which the FBI now shares data, Tanner said.

Homeland Security Office CIO Steve Cooper is conducting an inventory of systems and data across the federal government that the new department will need to link to, Tanner said.

Meanwhile, the FBI has been contacted by 'nearly every vendor who has a solution for all our data management' needs, Tanner said. 'I have been sorting them out and figuring out what is best'they all have certain capabilities.

'If you listen to any one of them they sound like they have the magic bullet, but they do not,' he said.

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