Should the FBI wait for governmentwide case management app?

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Cold case

One of the FBI's options for a case management system is to wait until the Federal Investigative Case Management System comes online.

But FICMS is still in the early planning stages: The project's managers have yet to define an architecture for the governmentwide case management system.

FICMS is a joint project of the Homeland Security and Justice departments [www.gcn.com, GCN.com/383].

DHS plans to issue a request for proposals as early as spring, said Stephen I. Cooper, FICMS program manager in the Customs and Border Protection branch of DHS' Border and Transportation Security Directorate.

'It is hoped that there are a set of [commercial] components that would address the architectural needs. We do not believe that one package would address all of the needs, and we would need a systems integrator.'

In September, the FICMS team held an industry day and released a request for information.

The departments closed the event to the press and the public, citing security concerns. But documents from the meeting show that DHS, with more than 40 case management systems to integrate, faces problems on a scale similar to Justice, which runs about 70 case management and related systems.

According to a DHS presentation:
  • Agents can't access details of investigations in paper case files around the country.

  • DHS offices and external agencies exchange case and intelligence information via copies of paper files.

  • Officers need up to an hour to search for a case file in 10 to 15 government and private databases.

  • Lack of integration forces duplicate entry of case and incident data.

  • Data entry can take up to five hours per case.

  • After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a search of nine databases to check for 900 names took weeks.

The goal of the FICMS project is to create a single point of access to all law enforcement information and to allow for easy sharing of case data among federal agencies.

Homeland Security officials have also said they want to make sure that new case systems comply with privacy laws and adhere to relevant data exchange standards.

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