FBIs Sentinel Contract Falls Short on Oversight

The contract for a proposed case management initiative, which could run as high as $500 million, is expected to be awarded soon, even though the FBI has already fallen behind in crafting required security and validation plans for the new system.

Even after being forced to scrap its $170 million case management initiative one year ago, and replacing it with the proposed "Sentinel" system, the FBI has already fallen behind in crafting required security and validation plans for the new system.

Nonetheless, a contract for Sentinel, estimated to cost between $400 million and $500 million, is expected to be awarded within a month.

Sentinel replaces the FBIs failed Virtual Case File project, which the bureau canceled in March 2005 after it was shown to suffer from poor management, poor oversight and a lack of mature IT investment processes.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more about the FBIs Sentinel data management project.

Auditors in the Justice Departments Office of Inspector General this month raised concerns that Sentinel also has come up lacking in oversight documentation, cost-tracking and cost-control, among other things.

A select group of about 45 IT companies received a request for proposal from the FBI in August to deploy Sentinel.

The requests went to a pool of vendors chosen in 2000 to participate in a government-wide IT contract, called CIO-SP2i, administered by the National Institutes of Health. Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman are rumored to be the final two contenders in the contract negotiations, but neither the companies nor the FBI would confirm it.

The goal of Sentinel is to provide a Web-enabled case management system that includes records management, workflow management, evidence management, and records search and reporting capabilities.

The project will be deployed in four phases until completion in 2009.

In a report released in March, Justice Department auditors found that the IT investment management process for Sentinel appeared to be sound, but the FBI was behind on completing the required system security plan and Independent Verification and Validation plan.

/zimages/6/28571.gifAn FBI computer crime survey finds evidence of widespread attacks. Read more here.

The project proceeded without the plans because it required detailed project design information from the yet-to-be-named vendor, and a separate contract for the IV&V plan, according to the FBI.

One problem that impeded the Virtual Case File project, which Sentinel does not suffer from, is rapid turnover in the FBIs CIO office.

While the VCF, and its predecessor, Trilogy, were being developed, five different CIOs or acting CIOs were at the FBI. However, the current CIO has been in the job since May 2004.

The auditors recommended that the FBI complete the required security and validation plans as soon as possible after a contract is signed and that it establish an effective system to track and control development costs, among other things.

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