GAO faults FBI Sentinel staffing process

Government Accountability Office's report on the FBI's Sentinel

The FBI is moving quickly to staff its six-year, $425 million Sentinel program, which will replace the agency’s failed Virtual Case File project and antiquated intelligence analysis and investigative case management systems, according to a new Government Accountability Office report prepared for the House Judiciary Committee.

But the report states that the Sentinel staffing process is focusing only on the program office’s immediate staffing needs and not on the “kind of strategic human capital management that GAO’s research and evaluations have shown to be essential to the success of any organizational entity.”

Specifically, GAO found that the FBI staffing plan “was not derived using a documented data-driven methodology and does not provide for inventorying the knowledge and skills of existing staff.”

Sentinel has not looked ahead to future staffing needs, analyzed gaps between current employees and future workforce needs, or formulated a strategy for filling those expected gaps, the report states.

GAO warned that “unless the FBI adopts a more strategic approach to managing human capital for the Sentinel program and treats human capital as a program risk, the chances of delivering required intelligence and investigative support capabilities in a timely and cost-effective manner are reduced.”

GAO has recommended that the FBI establish policies and procedures for strategically managing IT programs’ workforce needs and treating and managing the Sentinel vacancies as a program risk.

According to the report, the FBI has agreed with the recommendations and is taking steps to correct the program.

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

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