Good IT News, Bad IT News at Department of Justice

The annual report by the Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) on the state of IT in the DOJ says that the FBI has made progress in implementing its Sentinel system. The report notes that, "Over the past several years, the FBI has instituted better IT management processes and controls through its Life Cycle Management Directive. Continuity in both the FBI''s CIO position and its project management staff '' a huge problem in failed previous efforts '' also has stabilized. In addition, all of the FBI''s IT activities have been centralized under the FBI CIO, who now controls all agency IT spending.''

However, the IG goes on to note: "The Department also faces the challenge of assuring that the more than $2 billion it receives annually for the Department''s IT systems is being spent effectively. A June 2007 OIG report examined the Department''s inventory of IT systems and identified 38 major IT systems estimated by system mangers to cost over $15 billion through 2012. The OIG''s audit found that the cost information the Department provides on its IT systems to Congress, OMB, and senior management within the Department is unreliable. Specifically, IT system cost reporting within the Department is fragmented, uses inconsistent methodologies, and lacks control procedures necessary to ensure that cost data for IT systems is accurate and complete."

The OIG also said there was big trouble with the Integrated Wireless Network (IWN), a $5 billion joint project among the Department of Justice, the DHS, and the Department of Treasury that is intended to address federal law enforcement requirements to communicate across agencies, allow interoperability with state and local law enforcement agencies, and meet federal mandates to use federal radio frequency spectrum more efficiently. The OIG concluded that, "the IWN project was at a high risk of failure. Despite over 6 years of development and more than $195 million in funding, the OIG concluded that the IWN project does not appear to be on the path to providing the intended seamless interoperable communications system. The causes for the high risk of project failure include uncertain and disparate funding mechanisms for IWN, the fractured partnership between the Department and DHS on IWN, and the lack of an effective governing structure for the project."

It's a good thing, I guess, that you can't IWN them all.


Risk Factor

IEEE Spectrum's risk analysis blog, featuring daily news, updates and analysis on computing and IT projects, software and systems failures, successes and innovations, security threats, and more.

Willie D. Jones