FBI to run old case system while it fields VCF

'Our goal is to deploy the first piece of [VCF] by the end of this year.'

'FBI's Zalmai Azmi

Henrik G. de Gyor

The FBI plans to keep its aging Automated Case System running for several months as it begins to activate modules of the Virtual Case File replacement.

The bureau's CIO, Zalmai Azmi, declined to say when he would shut down ACS, which several reports from the Justice Department and the Government Accountability Office have called difficult to use and unsecure.

VCF forms the last third of the Trilogy systems makeover that has networked FBI offices and fielded thousands of new desktop PCs. The bureau announced last month that resolving VCF issues would delay full activation past the previous deadline of December this year.

Great expectations

FBI planners originally expected that Trilogy would cost about $200 million less than its current $581 million budget, and that it would be completely ready by last December.

'Our goal is to deploy the first piece of [VCF] by the end of this year,' Azmi said. He emphasized that under the previous plan, VCF would have replaced ACS all at once. 'The flash cutover was pretty risky,' Azmi said.

The new plan calls for ACS and VCF to operate in parallel as new modules go live in sequence.
Azmi declined to specify when the bureau would turn off ACS. 'It provides mission-critical services,' he said, such as management and administrative records.

While bureau officials work on VCF along with contractor Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego, they are carefully examining its links with ACS. At each interface, bureau and contractor specialists are implementing security controls on the VCF side of the connection.

Bureau officials and SAIC executives also are negotiating a new contract for the remaining work on VCF. Azmi said he expects the negotiations to be completed within three weeks.

'We have agreed that it will be a performance-based, cost-sharing contract,' he said.

The new contract will have specific timelines, deliverables and costs, unlike the previous cost-plus agreement.

VCF is classified at the secret level. Integrating it with other systems that operate at sensitive but unclassified or top-secret classifications has posed challenges for designers.

Another problem VCF designers have faced is migrating data from ACS to the new system, Azmi said. ACS is built with an Adabas database management system from Software AG Inc. USA of Reston, Va., whereas VCF uses an Oracle DBMS.

VCF will go online with a pilot as soon as the new SAIC contract is signed, Azmi said.

'Once we know it is stable, we will deploy it to a limited group of users and begin data testing,' Azmi said.

As he tunes and fields VCF, Azmi will have the help of a reorganized CIO office . The CIO office and its contractors will independently evaluate the VCF work.

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