FBI network prevails over early glitches

FBI network prevails over early glitches

By Shruti Dat'

GCN Staff

The FBI's National Crime Information Center 2000, a crime-fighting information network, weathered a few glitches during its integration with the National Instant Criminal Background Check system with help from the FBI and prime contractors for the operating systems.

The FBI's Criminal Justice Information Service Division in Clarksburg, W.Va., turned NCIC 2000 on in July, said Stephen Fischer, FBI spokesman.

'There have been some glitches, but when you deploy a new system that replaces a legacy system that has been in operation for over 30 years, you are going to have some problems,' said Roy Yeise, unit chief of the NCIC programs development section. 'There are interfaces that are very tightly coupled over the years ' for virtually every state.'

NICS prime contractor Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego and NCIC 2000 prime contractor Harris Corp. of Melbourne, Fla., worked with the FBI to modify a small part of the integration code written to interface NICS and NCIC 2000, Yeise said.

With these implementation problems smoothed out, NCIC 2000 officials are concentrating on executing additional services as the new system replaces the FBI's 32-year-old NCIC legacy system.

The new network provides enhanced suspect identification and more search methods, which can be performed in a central office or law enforcement vehicle, officials said. The FBI used the information engineering facility's fourth generation language to write the NCIC 2000 program, Yeise said.

The lack of programmers with expertise in this computer language helped keep the project four years behind schedule. The request for purchase was administered in 1993, with implementation originally scheduled for 1995, he said.

NCIC 2000 interfaces with seven federal agencies and one point of contact for each of the 50 states using the government FTS 2000 long-haul communications network through U.S. Sprint. State agencies interface with local agencies independent of the FBI, Yeise said.

NCIC 2000 runs a bisynchronous communications, TCP/IP and IBM's Systems Network Architecture protocol, Yeise said. The system is connected over a radio frequency network'a typical voice channel'to communicate with remote units, Yeise added.

Online rap sheet

The new system can process more than 2.4 million transactions a day and stores about 39 million records in its 17 databases, which include facts about people with outstanding warrants, missing people, deported felons, Secret Service files, foreign fugitives, unidentified bodies, stolen property and criminal history. Much of this information was rolled over from the NCIC legacy databases'dating to 1967'to NCIC 2000, Fischer said.

The databases run on an IBM R54 mainframe with three processors, which can contain up to 10 central processing units each. Currently, each processor only contains five CPUs processing 45 million instructions per second, said H. Frank Brown, an FBI supervisory computer specialist. Each processor has 2G of memory, Yeise said.

The NCIC 2000 upgraded databases provide information about people on supervised release, probation or parole, sexual offenders and those incarcerated in federal prisons, Yeise said.

Here's how the system works: A point-of-contact state sends an inquiry to NCIC 2000. The NCIC 2000 will forward it to the National Instant Criminal Background Check system. NICS then generates the NCIC inquiry to check for outstanding warrants and the Interstate Identification Index for criminal history. NICS collects the responses from the databases and delivers the data to the point-of-contact states, Yeise said.

Users can also conduct enhanced name searches of all derivatives of a name, such as Jeff, Geoff or Jeffrey, in the databases in about two seconds, according to the FBI.

A new information linking system also provides details associated with a case. State law enforcement officials inquiring about a case number receive information about all property taken or individuals associated with that case number, Yeise said.

The FBI provides access to NCIC 2000 at no cost, but to reap the benefits of some of the new features, interested law enforcement agencies must purchase the equipment and commercial software such as workstations and mainframes themselves, according to the FBI. The cost to law enforcement agencies will be at least $2,000, Yeise said.

The new system will foster officer safety and efficiency, Fischer said. He added, however, the system is only as good as the information provided'much like NICS.

About 1,687 firearms were sold to buyers who should have been disqualified since Nov. 30, when NICS was implemented, because of incomplete or inaccurate information submitted by state law enforcement agencies, according to the FBI.

'We encourage states to provide complete information,' Fischer said.


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