Report: FBI IT falls short

Federal Bureau of Investigation's Management of Information Technology Investments

The FBI is not effectively managing the costs, schedules and performance of its information technology investments, including its multimillion-dollar Trilogy program, according to the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General.

In a report released Dec. 19, auditors found that the bureau does not have the management processes necessary to support successful IT programs. Specifically, the FBI has failed to:

* Define and create IT investment boards.

* Follow a disciplined process of tracking and overseeing each IT project's cost and schedule milestones.

* Identify existing IT systems and projects.

* Identify the business needs for each IT project.

* Use defined processes to select new IT projects.

"Because the FBI has not fully implemented the critical processes associated with effective IT investment management," the report said, "the FBI continues to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on IT projects without adequate assurance that these projects will meet their intended goals."

The shortcomings, according to the report, stem mainly from a lack of appropriate management attention on the part of FBI officials.

The report singled out Trilogy — a massive project to upgrade the FBI's computer systems — for being behind schedule and over budget. Despite $78 million in additional fiscal 2002 funding for Trilogy, the FBI missed its July 2002 milestone date for completing IT infrastructure upgrades to field offices, including installing new computer hardware and software, the auditors found. Those upgrades are not expected to be completed until March 2003.

Also, the component of Trilogy that is designed to upgrade and consolidate five of the FBI's 42 investigative applications is at high risk for not being completed within the funding levels appropriated by Congress, according to the report.

Despite those problems, however, FBI officials have taken steps to improve IT management, the report says. For instance, in early 2002, the agency began to test a new process for evaluating IT proposals. As part of that process, the FBI also created three IT investment review boards to ensure that proposals were technically sound and relevant.

The auditors made 30 recommendations for improving the FBI's IT management. In its response to the draft report, bureau officials agreed with almost every recommendation, including:

* Establishing a deadline for creating an IT inventory.

* Having the FBI director ensure that each IT project has a management plan approved by the Project Oversight Committee that includes cost and schedule controls.

* Instructing Trilogy project managers to prepare an action plan to address the risks identified by three internal reports on Trilogy.

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