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Audit Critical of FBI's IT Management

A new government report has found "major weaknesses" in the FBI's financial management of its IT programs. According to the Justice Dept.'s Office of Inspector General (IG), "the FBI continues to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on IT projects without adequate assurance that these projects will meet their intended goals."

The report concludes that the FBI's IT strategic planning and performance measurements are inadequate, including failures to cite goals for investment management and plans that are not consistent with the overall goals of the Justice Dept.

The audit also reviewed the FBI's management of its Trilogy project, the FBI's largest and most critical IT project aimed at replacing the agency's outdated computer systems. According to the report, "the lack of critical IT investment management processes contributed to missed milestones and led to uncertainties about cost, schedule and technical goals."

Despite $78 million in additional funding, the FBI missed its July milestone date for completing the physical IT infrastructure upgrades to field offices, including new computer hardware and networks. FBI officials stated they are not expecting the physical infrastructure components of Trilogy to be completed until March.

In addition, the user application component of Trilogy, recognized by FBI officals as the most important aspect of the project in terms of improving agent performance, is at "high risk" of not being completed within the funding levels appropriated by Congress.

"In our judgment, the management problems associated with Trilogy demonstrates the FBI's urgent need for enhanced IT investment management," the report states.

The IG says the foundation for sound IT investment management includes:

  • defining and developing IT investment boards;
  • following a disciplined process of tracking and overseeing each project's cost and schedule milestones over time;
  • identifying existing IT systems and projects;
  • identifying the business needs for each project; and
  • using defined processes to select new IT project proposals.
  • "The FBI failed to implement these critical processes," the report concludes. "We found that the FBI does not have fully functioning IT investment boards that are engaged in all phases of IT investment mangement."

    In addition the IG says the FBI was not following a disciplined process of tracking and overseeing each project's cost and schedule milestones.