FBI's Sentinel Project Hits Another Snag

Program Suspended Until Some Issues Are Worked Out

2 min read
FBI's Sentinel Project Hits Another Snag

US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Robert Mueller told the US House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies last week that the follow-on to the notoriously failed $170 million Virtual Case File program would once again slip its schedule and cost targets, the New York Timesreported.

Sentinel is the FBI's next-generation information management system.  According to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO),  Sentinel's key objectives are to: (1) successfully  implement a system that acts as a single point of entry for all  investigative case management and that provides paperless case  management and workflow capabilities, (2) facilitate a bureau-wide organizational change management program, and (3) provide intuitive interfaces that feature data relevant to individual users.

When the Sentinel contract was awarded in 2006 it was going to cost a total $425 million and take six years to be full complete and rolled out. It is now at $451 million and is expected to rise to at least $481 million and slip possibly several months if not longer.

The Times story says that Director Mueller decided to suspend work on Sentinel to correct some "minor" technical issues and make some design changes. These issues included, according to the Times, "slow response times, awkward display pages and screen print that was too small."

For these problems to be appearing now, given Sentinel's extremely high Congressional profile, the importance of Sentinel to the FBI, and the supposed tight oversight of the program after the VCF fiasco, indicates to me that there may be much more here than is being publicly disclosed. Even the Department of JusticeCIO rates the program as a 3.5 out of 5 in terms of overall program risk.

If I were Congress, I would ask the GAO to do an in-depth review of the program immediately. Things don't sound right.

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An IBM Quantum Computer Will Soon Pass the 1,000-Qubit Mark

The Condor processor is just one quantum-computing advance slated for 2023

4 min read
This photo shows a woman working on a piece of apparatus that is suspended from the ceiling of the laboratory.

A researcher at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center examines some of the quantum hardware being constructed there.

Connie Zhou/IBM

IBM’s Condor, the world’s first universal quantum computer with more than 1,000 qubits, is set to debut in 2023. The year is also expected to see IBM launch Heron, the first of a new flock of modular quantum processors that the company says may help it produce quantum computers with more than 4,000 qubits by 2025.

This article is part of our special report Top Tech 2023.

While quantum computers can, in theory, quickly find answers to problems that classical computers would take eons to solve, today’s quantum hardware is still short on qubits, limiting its usefulness. Entanglement and other quantum states necessary for quantum computation are infamously fragile, being susceptible to heat and other disturbances, which makes scaling up the number of qubits a huge technical challenge.

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