FBI's new IT system gets go-ahead despite flaws

GAO: FBI should proceed with its Sentinel case-management system even if it doesn't yet have a complete IT architecture plan in place.

The FBI's new case-management program, "Sentinel," suffers from serious gaps but the project should go forward, the GAO recommended, reports InformationWeek. Sentinel is the FBI's major overhaul of its IT system, which is designed to standardize file-sharing capabilities.

"Certain urgent and compelling mission needs will necessitate acquiring system capabilities at the same time architectures are being developed," Randolph Hite, director of IT architecture and systems issues at the Government Accountability Office, wrote in a letter to Rep. Frank Wolf, the Virginia Republican who chairs the House Subcommittee on Science, the Departments of State, Justice, and Commerce, and Related Agencies.

The recommendations outlined four areas hampering the FBI's ability to utilize the new IT case-management program including:

  • The absence of performance-based contracting and effective contractor tracking and oversight has constrained the FBI’s ability to effectively manage and oversee its EA contractor...
  • Four of five key [IT] architect positions were vacant.
  • The bureau has yet to create an integrated plan of action that is based on a comprehensive analysis of human capital roles and responsibilities needed to support the IT functions established under the office of the CIO’s reorganization. 
  • The FBI has been challenged in its ability to retain individuals in senior IT positions...
According to CIO Zalmai Azmi, Sentinel is, "the FBI's first software platform built on a Web-friendly, service-oriented IT architecture--as nothing short of a way for the bureau to finally break free from the shackles of its outmoded IT systems."

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