FBI focuses on IT capabilities

FBI officials are counting on the bureau's new Office of Information Technology Policy and Planning (OIPP) to tame the sort of undisciplined IT spending that led the FBI to abandon its $170 million Virtual Case File system earlier this year.

OIPP officials now set IT policies, develop plans, oversee governance procedures and direct IT spending, said Sanjeev "Sonny" Bhagowalia, the office's acting assistant director. Their responsibility is to ensure that all IT spending supports the FBI's mission, he said.

For example, when the operations side declares its needs, OIPP will develop concept plans to meet them, Bhagowalia said. His office will then hand those blueprints to the new Office of IT Program Management. Led by Dean Hall, program management executive, that office will develop a workable solution and install it.

During the systems development process, the FBI's chief technology officer acts as a machete to hack through the jungle of possible products to find the best ones, Hall said.

OIPP's duties also include responding to audits by the Justice Department's inspector general and the congressional Government Accountability Office, Bhagowalia said. In the past, both agencies have criticized the FBI for lacking standard methods and governance procedures for developing enterprisewide IT systems.

OIPP officials also oversee the FBI's enterprise architecture, a set of documents created to prevent IT overspending, redundancy and misalignment with the agency's mission and needs, Bhagowalia said.

In addition, OIPP officials are overseeing an expansion of the FBI's governance process for IT spending and project management, he said. The FBI's new Life Cycle Management Directive is an enterprisewide framework for guaranteeing that the bureau's IT programs conform to the same policies.

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