Draft report suggests end for FBI's case management app

The FBI's Virtual Case File project'on which the bureau has spent almost $170 million since June 2001'won't succeed. That's the conclusion the Justice Department's inspector general has reached.

The auditors' gloomy forecast, contained in a draft report obtained by GCN, echoes criticism from systems specialists within and outside the bureau who cited the project's technical and management flaws.

The bureau likely will not be able to recoup the money it has given contractor Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego for VCF work, sources said.

In a response to a reporter's query, the bureau said: 'The FBI would like to clarify that the draft does not yet represent the OIG's conclusions. In the course of preparing its reports, the OIG routinely produces drafts for purposes of discussion and fact finding.'

An SAIC spokesman said company officials have not seen the report.

Justice's IG said the FBI plans to replace VCF with the Federal Investigative Case Management System. 'The current VCF application will not meet the FBI's needs,' the Dec. 20 draft report said. 'The FBI has no clear timetable or prospect for completing VCF.'

According to the IG, the VCF project helped the FBI define its user requirements for case management systems. But since it began the project, the bureau has reorganized IT operations and centralized systems control.

IG auditors concluded that the bureau's next-generation FICMS is 'unlikely to benefit substantially from the Virtual Case File, from a technical or engineering standpoint.'

The draft report noted that technological developments since the VCF project began in mid-2001 and the FBI's approach of adapting older systems to provide components would prevent the bureau from applying VCF technology to the planned FICMS.

The Government Accountability Office has been reviewing the VCF project for Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Hill dismay

When requesting the study in May, Sensenbrenner said, 'I am frustrated that what began as a 36-month project in 2001 and currently is scheduled to be a 48-month project is in danger of falling even further behind because of reported problems with VCF delivery.'

An FBI source said the bureau lost control of the project by failing to rigorously define its requirements and manage scope.

'They tried to address all of the FBI's investigative needs, and they underestimated the magnitude of the job,' the IT manager said.

The FBI likely will conduct a procurement for FICMS this year and will rely on commercial or existing government systems for major components of the system.

FBI planners expect FICMS to become the case management system for all government law enforcement agencies, the report noted.

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