FBI to make Sentinel share information more easily

Bureau awards $305m contract to Lockheed

The FBI is taking steps to ensure its new case management system, dubbed Sentinel, will share information among the disparate systems at the Homeland Security Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and other agencies.

FBI officials said they have specified several such functions including coordination with the N-DEX data sharing system.

The bureau last week awarded Lockheed Martin Corp. a six-year, $305 million contract for Sentinel, which would adopt standardized information sharing features specified in the National Information Sharing Exchange Model. It also would follow the intelligence community's Metadata Working Group and the Justice Department's Extensible Markup Language Data Model.

Lockheed beat out Northrop Grumman Corp. for the contract to replace the failed Virtual Case File system, which the FBI abandoned in March 2005 after spending $104 million on it.

Sentinel also would share information with the litigation case management system Justice is buying, officials said.

The bureau said it had informed one of the teams that its proposal was not acceptable, but cautioned that negotiations are still fluid.

The FBI's latest justification for Sentinel comes after Justice's inspector general, Glenn Fine, rapped the project for failing to build in strong information sharing capabilities.

The bureau concurred with the IG's recommendation to coordinate with other law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and described its plans to do so.

In addition, the bureau said it had assigned an information architect to the Sentinel project with responsibility for ensuring Sentinel's information sharing capabilities.

Despite the bureau's assurances, the IG report cites statements by other agencies that their involvement in the Sentinel development process has been limited. For example, the Drug Enforcement Administration's case management system acquired under the Concorde program may have to be modified to link to Sentinel.

Homeland Security Department IT officials told the investigators that they had reviewed information about Sentinel but not participated in its planning.

The IG warned that if connectivity is not built in, other agencies ' systems might require costly and time-consuming modifications.

The FBI added that Sentinel would distinguish between law enforcement data and intelligence data, which have to be handled differently.

Other IG recommendations include:
  • Strengthening plans for system security

  • Achieving full staffing of the Sentinel program office

  • Buying and installing an earned-value management tool

  • Using a cost-tracking tool

  • Completing a training plan

  • Monitoring the effects of taking funds from operational programs to pay for Sentinel.

The bureau concurred with the IG's recommendations and described how it already had been implementing them.

The IG added that Sentinel might cost $400 million to $500 million, according to information the bureau provided to Congress last year.


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