Law enforcement

ICE seeks new case management system

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After a plan to build a custom case management system misfired, Immigration and Customs Enforcement is looking for a commercial solution to track its investigations from initial probes through prosecution.

The Department of Homeland Security investigative agency has set up an ambitious schedule to get the system in place, according to a solicitation on FedBizOpps. Testing is set to begin in January 2015, and the system should be operational the following September.

The push comes as ICE is digging its way out of an abandoned effort with contractor Raytheon to build an integrated case management system to replace an aging, Cobol-based mainframe system.

In September 2011, ICE estimated that the case management system would cost about $818 million to build and last through 2024. But by June 2013, the plan was shelved because officials found that "the core technical architecture was technically insufficient," ICE CIO Thomas Michelli said at a Feb. 6 hearing held by the House Homeland Security Committee's Oversight and Management Efficiency Subcommittee. To date, $63.9 million has been spent on the system. ICE now estimates that using commercial software will reduce overall expenses for the system because of lower development and maintenance costs.

The system will run on DHS' private cloud and is intended to be a repository for documents and information on ICE investigations and investigative tools. According to the requirements, the system should be designed to search for information held by DHS and other federal law enforcement agencies, as well as state and local partners. Additionally, the system requires built-in analytical tools to help investigators "further develop intelligence and investigative information." ICE also wants the system to share information about subjects of investigations with Customs and Border Protection, which maintains a "lookout" list for use at border crossings.

The system is expected to launch wide after "extensive system integration testing, performance testing and stress testing," according to the solicitation. Perhaps because of the short schedule and the previous failure to create a system, ICE is looking to keep vendors on a short leash. The new solicitation includes weekly risk meetings, requires vendors to show new functionality in two-week increments during the development and building process, and mandates a January 2015 "code freeze" after which changes would be introduced on an iterative basis as the result of testing.

The requirements also spell out precisely the levels of performance expected for the system: It must be able to accommodate 10,000 concurrent users and process a half-million individual transactions per day.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.

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