DEA looks to a case-tracking application

Drug Enforcement Administration investigators are testing an application that
eventually could let agents in the field enter sensitive case information on notebook PCs.

A request for proposals for the Investigative Management Program and Case Tracking
system (IMPACT) will be issued soon, said Anthony Coulson, supervisory special agent.

The RFP is for a follow-on to the system DEA officials are already testing on PCs in
their offices, said Ned Goldberg, chief of operations and support.

Using the system, agents can click on a menu and call up cases by name, case number and
other variables. The application includes various electronic forms into which data can be

The idea for the system came from DEA agents who wanted a way to file reports while at
crime scenes, Coulson said.

The Field Advisory Council, which is made up of mid- to high-level law enforcement
officials, came up with the IMPACT concept, said Anthony Bocchichio, administrator for
operational support. The DEA’s Information Resources Management Committee approved
the pilot.

“DEA is very well-supported, but we are entering data redundantly. We don’t
have access to all of the organization’s information. We need to do it faster and
better,” Coulson said.

DEA agents taking notes on stakeout or while investigating crime scenes must return to
the office, write up their reports on PCs and enter the data into the DEA database, which
often takes several days, Coulson said.

IMPACT will let agents enter their reports in the field and distribute reports across a
network instantly, Coulson said.

Fast turnaround of the data also will keep cases fresh in agents’ minds and
quickly alert other agents on the network of breaks in cases, Coulson said. And cutting
the amount of time spent filing reports will give agents more time to spend on the streets
solving cases, he said.

IMPACT also will let supervisors compile crime statistics to help them assign agents
more effectively, he said.

But before the notebook version of IMPACT can be implemented, Goldberg said, DEA must
decide on security standards, including encryption and the method of transmitting the
data—satellite, modem or some other way.

DEA wants the contractor to use commercial products to develop the system, Coulson
said. “IMPACT will be the hybrid that sits between the systems and puts and pulls
information,” he said.

The system will link to the Firebird Network, a series of LANs that eventually will
link all DEA offices worldwide, Coulson said. The 10,000-seat network will run under
Microsoft Windows NT.

Firebird has been installed in all 21 DEA field divisions and the Miami division’s
satellite offices, Bocchichio said. Installation at the rest of the satellite offices
continues, he said.

The cost and difficulty of maintaining the agency’s 10-year-old Unisys Corp.
system led to the Firebird upgrade, Goldberg said [GCN, Oct. 19, Page 29].

DEA’s databases are written in Model 204 language from Computer Corporation of
America of Framingham, Mass. The company makes database management systems, languages and

DEA uses the SoftSpy Model 204 development package. SoftSpy, a product of Information
Technology Systems of Newton Center, Mass., provides interactive debugging, performance
tuning and quality assurance testing for languages, a company official said.

Goldberg would not say what the IMPACT implementation will cost but characterized it as
a multimillon-dollar project.  


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