Justice invests heavily in IT

The Justice Department would invest heavily in information technology to support counterterrorism and homeland security initiatives under President Bush's fiscal 2004 budget request.

With a focus on enforcement programs, the department's budget would give the FBI's IT projects $82.2 million, with most of that — $61.7 million — dedicated to its Trilogy modernization program.

Funding for the $458 million Trilogy project, intended to upgrade the bureau's IT infrastructure, was put on hold last month because of a 50 percent cost overrun. The Senate Appropriations Committee ordered the FBI to come up with a new funding package by Feb. 15 for fiscal 2003 to cover the overrun.

A Justice Department inspector general report in December said the FBI was pouring money into IT programs and poorly managing the projects. Trilogy, which one senator called a "disaster," received an additional $78 million in fiscal 2002 funding. The FBI, however, missed a July 2002 milestone for complete IT infrastructure upgrades to field offices.

The proposed $82.2 million for IT projects in the federal 2004 spending plan would include costs for hardware and software upgrades during the next several years, and $2 million would go to upgrading the Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information Local-Area Network at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Overall, the department is requesting $23.3 billion, with $598.2 million dedicated to combating terrorism and $41.5 million set aside for general IT management and security resources.

Other FBI technology items in the budget include:

* $72.6 million for the Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force, which would employ state-of-the art database technology to support information collection, threat assessment and dissemination of information about suspected terrorists.

* $41.1 million for the Computer Intrusion Program to disrupt terrorist attacks on vital national infrastructure computer systems, such as those that control water, power and transport.

* $1.2 million to support a permanent staff for a tip line for a 24-hour review and analysis of suspected terrorist activity reported via the Internet.

* $61.8 million to add personnel and upgrade the technology of the Legal Attache (Legat) program and the Visa Identification Terrorist Automated Lookout. The resources would include bringing the technology infrastructure of the Legat offices in line with the Trilogy project.

* $18 million to support the Computer Analysis Response Team, which extracts data and supports FBI investigations involving computer evidence.

Other Justice Department technology items include:

* $12 million to expand the Regional Information Sharing System, which enables state and local public safety agencies to share terrorism alerts and related information.

* $22 million to establish an automated cross-case analytical system to compile and disseminate information from Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force agencies.

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