According to today's Washington Internet Daily, the FBI's current attempt to modernize its IT systems has been derailed, at least temporarily. The program, dubbed Sentinel, is the follow up to the $170 million Virtual Case File debacle we wrote about in Spectrum in 2005. The first part of the project was successfully deployed by contractor Lockheed Martin only a few weeks ago, as Bob Charette noted in our The Risk Factor blog.
But now its future depends on how well deputy attorney general and an internal review board think the FBI is managing the program, according Washington Internet Daily: "FBI Sentinel data-management system was denied funding in the House-approved appropriations bill for the departments of Commerce and Justice and science agencies....Among a long list of general areas for which Justice funding will not be available, Section 210 of the bill (HR-3093) names Sentinel, barring funding for that program "or any other major new or enhanced information technology program" projected to cost more than $100 million to develop. Such programs can be exempted from the funding ban if the deputy attorney general and investment review board certify to Appropriations that the program has 'appropriate program management and contractor oversight mechanisms in place, and that the program is compatible with the enterprise architecture' at Justice."
Enterprise architecture, or rather the lack of one, was one major reason the Virtual Case File went off the rails. That, and the fact that no one was really watching what the contractor was doing. Could the fact that no one trusts the Bureau to manage its own IT projects actually mess up what has up to now been a relatively successful project? Stay tuned.