Recent events push these priorities above the bureau's plan to modernize its IT infrastructure
Security and creating a document management system are the top technology priorities at the FBI, trumping the bureau's plan to modernize its antiquated information technology infrastructure, the bureau's information technology chief told a Senate committee July 18.
The priorities are closely tied to two of the bureau's biggest recent embarrassments—the arrest of veteran FBI agent Robert Hanssen, who served as a spy for Russia for more than 15 years, and the loss of thousands of documents in connection with the trial of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
"Our IT infrastructure is in need of repair, and our approach to IT planning and funding has been less than adequate," said Bob Dies, assistant director for the FBI's information resources division. Trilogy, the FBI's three-year plan to modernize its antiquated infrastructure, is designed to begin to deal with these issues, he said.
But recent events "indicate a need to quickly go beyond Trilogy's infrastructure plan to incorporate state-of-the-art IT security process and a world-class records management system," he said. "Those would be our first two priorities. We can then turn our attention to modernizing and integrating the bureau's remaining investigative, administrative and financial systems."
Those efforts likely will require additional funding, he said. The FBI's fiscal 2003 request is moving through the budget process at the Justice Department and the Office of Management and Budget, Dies told the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Dies did not say if the efforts would delay Trilogy's rollout. Earlier this year, the FBI selected DynCorp and Science Applications International Corp. as the Trilogy contractors. About $100 million has been collected for the program from previous funding approvals, and the Bush administration has requested a $75 million increase for the program—to $95 million — for fiscal 2002.
The committee's hearing comes just a day after the latest flap involving the FBI. The Justice Department acknowledged July 17 that hundreds of laptop computers and weapons were lost, missing or stolen.
"There are some very serious management problems at the FBI," said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the committee's chairman.
Internal security is a paramount concern, Dies said. The issue is broader than information technology, he acknowledged, but it involves IT.
In March 2000, nearly a year before Hanssen was arrested, then-FBI Director Louis Freeh created a task force to review FBI policies and procedures, said Kenneth Senser, FBI's acting deputy assistant director for security programs and countermeasures.
The task force recommended that the FBI create clear lines of accountability for security. That has been done with the appointment of Senser, a career security executive from the CIA who oversees the FBI's security program, Dies said.
In May 2000, the FBI created the FBI Security Council to coordinate the bureau's security initiatives, which Senser said often were ineffective and poorly coordinated. The committee also recommended that the FBI tighten its security policy systems and invest in security training and education.
The FBI also is working with a team led by William Webster, former director of the FBI and CIA, that is investigating ways to improve internal security at the bureau.
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