FBI Director Robert Mueller told the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday that the infrastructure enhancements required to support the agency’s costly, oft-criticized Trilogy IT program are in place. The $458 million project, which has been plagued by cost overruns, is expected to allow FBI agents to receive multi-media case files at their desks and to link various law enforcement agency databases.
“The FBI has embarked on a comprehensive overhaul and revitalization of our information technology infrastructure,” Muller said. “That process is well under way, but our technological problems are complex, and they will be remedied only through careful and methodical planning and implementation. We have made progress in the past 18 months, and we have laid the groundwork for significant progress in the months and years ahead.”
Once completed, the FBI hopes to detect patterns in the large volume of information it collects. According to the FBI, more than half of the information the agency currently collects is not scanned.
According to Mueller, the infrastructure enhancements currently in place include new network printers, color scanners, local area network upgrades, desktop workstations, and Microsoft Office applications. The full upgrade will provide wide area network connectivity, new encryption devices to protect FBI data and new operating systems and servers. Mueller said completion of these activities is expected by the end of this month.
Mueller told the Senate panel the Trilogy program was initiated because, “Over the years, we have failed to develop a sufficient capacity to collect, store, search, retrieve, analyze and share information.”
In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S., the FBI admitted information about the movements of some of the terrorists were known to the FBI, but the information was not shared quickly enough between the various departments of the FBI for analysis and dissemination.
Trilogy’s cost overruns and the management of the program, however, have come under attack from Congress. After the FBI reported it had used all of a $100 million supplemental fund for Trilogy, a Senate appropriation report filed in January regarding the cost overruns stated, “This is not a surprise. The attempt to make up for 20 years of neglect in two frenzied years of spending was destined to fail. The FBI chose to squander this reserve. So when the funds are needed, none are available.”
Sen. Judd Gregg (R.-N.H.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has called the program a “disaster,” adding “Programs such as Trilogy do not need more money. What they need is more management.”
Mueller said the overall direction of the Trilogy program is to provide all FBI offices with improved network communications, a common and current set of office automation tools, and “easy-to-use, re-engineered, Web-based applications.”