Case File delayed further

A version of an FBI case management system will be in place by the end of this year, the FBI's newly appointed chief information officer said today.

This latest expected deadline for the Virtual Case File (VCF), the final piece of the bureau's Trilogy modernization program, is several months behind the previous implementation target of mid-summer and a year behind the original deadline, said Zalmai Azmi, bureau CIO.

Officials had said VCF would be deployed a few months after the completion of the second phase of Trilogy, which happened at the end of last month.

"We hope to deliver something," Azmi told reporters at a press briefing at the FBI headquarters. "We'll have the best solution we can by the end of the year."

Officials now are planning a phased deployment of the system, and Azmi said they didn't want to rush the implementation to better optimize the new network built as part of the Trilogy program.

FBI officials are currently renegotiating the terms and timeline with VCF contractor Science Applications International Corp., Azmi said. In December 2003, SAIC delivered a case management product that FBI officials deemed unacceptable, lacking a number of necessary capabilities, he said. The company then established a new timeline for completion that FBI officials also rejected.

Although officials are still in discussions with the vendor, Azmi said the renegotiated deal would include a cost-sharing provision if the work is not done on time -- a departure from the cost-plus-performance contract now in place. The contract will be performance-based and include specific milestones, Azmi said. FBI officials recently came to similar agreements with Computer Sciences Corp., which deployed the first two phases of Trilogy.

Meanwhile, House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-Wis.) this week asked the General Accounting Office to examine the FBI's management of the Virtual Case File project and its vendor.

"I am frustrated that what began as a 36-month project in 2001 and currently is scheduled to be a 48-month project is in danger of falling even further behind because of these reported problems with the VCF delivery," Sensenbrenner said in a statement.

FBI officials have not reached the maximum funding allotted for the nearly $600 million program, Azmi said, but depending on SAIC's new proposal, there may be further budget increases. There will also be added information technology expenses in upgrading much of the hardware and software implemented a few years ago, he said.

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