FBI's Sentinel will cost another $500m

Inspector general report warns of mismanagement, cost overruns in attempt to get FBI computer system up to date.

Is the FBI finally going to get the modern computer system it needs? Not quite, the Justice Dept.'s inspector general reported yesterday. According to the NY Times, the IG found that replacing the system will cost as much as another $500 million to complete, and more cost overruns are possible.

The F.B.I. office created to oversee the overhaul, known as the Sentinel project, is still not fully staffed, the report found, and it is not clear that the bureau has the management system in place to prevent the huge cost overruns that plagued previous incarnations of the project.

"We view the potential weaknesses in cost control as a project risk," the report said.

Moreover, the inspector general's office said it was not yet satisfied that the overhaul, even if successful, would allow the bureau to share information adequately with other intelligence and law enforcement agencies. If information-sharing is not built into the system, the report warned, a result may be "costly and time-consuming modifications" of the computer systems at the Justice Department, the Homeland Security Department and elsewhere.

The report said project management for the Virtual Case File system had been "fragmented and ill equipped." "Simply put, the VCF was poorly managed."

The Sentinel contract is expected to go to Lockheed Martin.

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