Justice CIO optimistic about eFBI

A year ago it was called the Information Sharing Initiative — a planned

$430 million communications system for FBI agents that Congress pulled the

plug on to head off expected cost overruns.

Today, it's called eFBI, but even that may change, an FBI spokesman

said recently.

Whatever its name, Justice Department chief information officer Stephen

Colgate called it "the bane of my existence for the last few years."

But perhaps not anymore.

"We think we finally came up with a winning proposal that will clear

the [House] Appropriations Committee," Colgate said Tuesday during a breakfast

meeting of government officials and business executives.

Colgate gave three reasons for the anticipated change. A revised program,

a budget reeled way in and Bob Dies — a new assistant FBI director hired

in July to head it up.

"The new assistant director has brought a lot of credibility from the

commercial sector," Colegate said. "He will turn this around."

Dies, 54, joined the bureau after 30 years with IBM Corp., during which

time he oversaw operations in Africa, the Middle East and Europe. It is

his job to oversee the design and launch of eFBI, an information sharing

system that will use the World Wide Web to enable agents and bureau offices

to communicate during investigations.

Previously, Justice officials were promoting a system that relied heavily

on legacy phone systems, which would have required major overhaul and upgrades.

"We had a grandiose, half-billion-dollar approach that did not go over

well with the appropriators," Colgate said. And that was on top of other

department information technology initiatives in which costs got out of

hand, according to Colgate.

"We are suffering for the sins of the past," he said. "I think we have

overcome those sins."

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