House panel to probe FBI case file system

The head of the House subcommittee with oversight of the FBI’s budget has launched an investigation into the bureau’s troubled Virtual Case Files program.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Science, State, Justice, Commerce and Related Agencies, which oversees the FBI’s budget, disclosed in a press release March 7 that he recently directed the committee’s Surveys and Investigations staff to conduct a review of the program.

The review includes “an examination of the FBI’s contracting procedures and management practices related to VCF,” Wolf said. The congressman sent a letter to FBI director Robert Mueller Feb. 1 informing him of the review.

The Virtual Case Files program was launched five years ago to modernize the bureau’s case management system. Despite the expenditure of $104 million, the program is widely considered a failure that the FBI has all but shut down.

The White House’s budget request for fiscal 2006 contains no new money for the VCF program, according to Daniel Scandling, a spokesman for Wolf.

Wolf, in the letter to Mueller, said he would conduct aggressive oversight of the project.

“The committee understands the problems with the VCF program will result in the need to dedicate additional funding to the program and further delay the implementation of modern information technology tools to combat terrorism,” Wolf wrote to Mueller. “The committee intends to provide vigorous oversight of VCF until its successful completion.”

The committee staff expects the FBI to cover additional costs for Virtual Case Files through “reprogramming” of existing funds, Scandling said.

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