FBI strong arms Trilogy project

After several deadline slips in the Trilogy modernization program, FBI officials have put some force behind the management of the contract.

To improve the chances for the program's success, bureau officials have revised the agency's contracts with Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC), one of the vendors working on Trilogy, the FBI's effort to modernize its outdated information technology infrastructure. The systems integrator will face financial penalties if it does not complete the work by the new deadline, April 30.

"It brought real focus and discipline that, frankly, I think we lacked in the past," said Paul Cofoni, president of CSC's federal sector. "It's built in a good relationship, accountability and good discipline."

CSC has missed several deadlines — most recently in December 2003. Now, officials have committed to finishing the infrastructure by the end of this month. If it's not done by then, the company will not win the award fee and will have to share the cost of finishing the work with the FBI, said Robert Mueller, the bureau's director.

"If the cost or schedule is missed, there will be no award fee in the sum of $5 million, and the FBI and the contractor will pay 50 percent each of any cost overruns after that," Mueller told the Senate Appropriations Committee's Commerce, Justice, State and the Judiciary Subcommittee last month.

Hank DiNuncio, CSC's Trilogy program manager, said company officials are in the final stages of the project, moving the data from the old to the new infrastructure. Once that is done, they will provide post-deployment support for two months, he said.

The company is not solely to blame for the slips. During a hearing last month, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), the subcommittee's chairman, blamed the Trilogy delays on the FBI's poor contract management.

The agency's needs and expectations changed and were not properly managed, CSC officials said.

The FBI was moving from a decentralized IT management structure to a centralized one, DiNuncio said. "There was not a rigorous process in place [at the FBI] to manage those expectations," he said.

Trilogy will support applications such as the Virtual Case File, which will allow agents to search, analyze and compile case information and will replace many of the existing applications. Deadlines for launching the case file system also have been missed.

Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) delivered the Virtual Case File by its December 2003 deadline, but it wasn't fully functional and thus rejected by FBI officials, said Glenn Fine, the Justice Department's inspector general. Most glitches have been resolved, but work remains to get it up and running, he said.

The FBI is renegotiating the SAIC deal to determine a new completion date, Mueller said. He expects the case file system to be functional about two months after Trilogy is completed.

SAIC officials were not available for comment.

Cost and schedule overruns were also a result of poorly defined requirements, weak IT management and lack of project integration between the CSC and SAIC contracts, Fine said. The FBI must set definitive milestones for vendors and "define the requirements right upfront," he said at the hearing last month.

Agency governance of contracts is essential and often neglected when changing needs are not addressed, said Chip Mather, senior vice president of Acquisition Solutions Inc. Building a relationship with the contractor ensures accountability and responsibility for the program, he said.

"Every success requires both parties to work together," Mather said. "If you don't have the governance and control structure in place and good management discipline, [the relationships] become impossible."

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