GAO: FBI still struggles with IT oversight

The jury is still out on whether the FBI is effectively managing its IT procurements, including the $305 million Sentinel program to upgrade case file systems, according to the Government Accountability Office.

A recent GAO letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee offers a summary of agency officials' efforts to follow up on concerns raised during an oversight hearing the committee conducted last month. GAO said it is still evaluating the FBI's formal response letter, dated May 30, to see whether the law enforcement agency is following GAO's previous recommendations to improve management controls for IT systems procurements.

The GAO letter describes the FBI's IT procurements as still vulnerable to mismanagement.

'Unless FBI strengthens its controls over contractor payments and purchased equipment, future projects, including the new Sentinel project, will be highly vulnerable to the same types of issues that plagued the Trilogy project,' Linda Calbom, GAO's director of financial management, wrote to Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

GAO also is reviewing the Sentinel IT program under development. A contract for Sentinel was awarded to Lockheed Martin Corp. in March.

GAO said it is evaluating the FBI's internal controls over contractor invoices and asset accountability for Sentinel. Specific issues to be examined include use of effective methods for acquiring commercial solutions, efforts to align Sentinel with the FBI's enterprise architecture, and the basis for reliably estimating costs and schedules, Calbom wrote.

Other issues are plans for applying earned-value management, provisions for adequate procurement staffing to manage the acquisition and relationship to the governmentwide case management line of business.

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer for Government Computer News' sister publication, Washington Technology.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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