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FBI gets WSJournal'ed

Fodder for your water cooler discussions today: The WSJ has two stories about homeland security related IT issues. The first looks at the FBI's efforts to improve its systems:

Security 2.0: FBI Tries Again To Upgrade Technology [WSJ, 10.31.2005]
Following its major technology setback, the FBI faces a mystery: How to create a high-tech system for wide sharing of information inside the agency, yet at the same time stop rogue agents intent on selling secrets.

If that link didn't work, try this one.

Here are the money quotes:
Highlighting the agency's problems is the recent indictment of an FBI analyst, Leandro Aragoncillo, who is accused of passing secret information to individuals in the Philippines. After getting a tip that Mr. Aragoncillo was seeking to talk to someone he shouldn't have needed to contact, the FBI used its computer-alert system to see what information the analyst had accessed since his hiring in 2004, a person familiar with the probe said. The system didn't pick up Mr. Aragoncillo's use of the FBI case-management system as unusual because he didn't seek "top secret" information and because he had security clearances to access the information involved, this person said.

The situation underscores the difficulties in giving analysts and FBI agents access to a broad spectrum of information, as required by the 9/11 Commission, while trying to ensure rogue employees aren't abusing the system. It's up to Mr. Azmi to do all this -- without repeating the mistakes of Virtual Case File.

Information sharing just isn't all that easy, is it?

Meanwhile, this story on the WSJ's front page:
How Tools of War On Terror Ensnare Wanted Citizens [WSJ, 10.31.2005]
Detentions of American citizens by immigration authorities for offenses large and small are becoming routine -- and have begun to stir a debate over the appropriate use of the latest technologies in the war on terror.

Again, if the other link doesn't work, try this one.

I ususally scan the papers in the morning but don't get to read the fully until the evening, so I have just scanned these stories and I will try to come back around to them.

I did finally get around to reading last Sunday's WP story about TSA's big Uniysis contract, which made allegations about mismanagement. The story is interesting because I think there is something more there. Don't get me wrong -- I wish we had the story and, if we had nailed it down, we would have run it. But we keep hearing that this contract is really having problems. And the most disappointing thing about the story is that it gets lost in the details. ITMS, after all, is a very big contract and the amount of money they are focused on is almost insignificant. What is not insignificant is that the system does not appear to be working as it was intended.

Secondly, this was supposed to be the model of performance based contracting. Under a performance based contract, agencies aren't supposed to have to worry about how much people get paid or other such details. Just as an aside, we did a story last week that was headlined, "Performance contracts gain ground," and I scoffed to the reporter that I just don't believe it -- and I'm not sure anybody else does either. But we'll save that for another time.

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Oct 31, 2005 at 12:15 PM


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