Hite says lack of EA no barrier to Sentinel

Information Technology: Responses to Subcommittee Post-Hearing Questions Regarding the FBI's Managem

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The FBI should proceed with building its Sentinel data management system even though the bureau has not completed its new enterprise architecture, a Government Accountability Office expert said yesterday.

The FBI must fully disclose, consider and manage risks –- such as a lack of interoperability or duplication of effort -– instead of scuttling an essential project for fear of them, said Randy Hite, director of information technology architecture and systems issues at GAO.

“Notwithstanding the fact that any agency faces considerable risk if it does not have a complete and enforceable enterprise architecture to guide and constrain system investments, this does not mean that an agency should categorically decide not to invest in a given system until such an architecture exists,” Hite said in a letter to Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s Science, the Departments of State, Justice and Commerce and Related Agencies Subcommittee.

Hite clarified questions Wolf and other subcommittee members had about the FBI’s management of Sentinel after GAO issued a report last September evaluating the FBI’s progress in modernizing its IT systems.

The FBI has made some effort to mitigate the risks of going ahead with Sentinel before the bureau’s enterprise architecture is complete, Hite said.

For example, the bureau has issued an interim vision of the architecture that supports the investigative, intelligence and analytical lines of business that Sentinel will support, he said. The prospective architecture identifies repetition and reliance on other enterprise components and contains plans to avoid such duplication.

Sentinel will replace the failed $170 million Virtual Case File system. VCF was to be part of the FBI's Trilogy program for modernizing the bureau’s information systems but was abandoned after repeated cost and schedule overruns.

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