Some FBI officials began raising doubts about the bureau’s attempts to create a computerized case management system as early as 2003, two years before the $170 million project was abandoned, says a report to the House Appropriations Committee quoted by the Washington Post. By last year, the FBI had identified 400 problems with early versions of the troubled software but never told the contractor. The bureau went ahead with a $17 million testing program last December, even though it was clear by then that the software would have to be scrapped, said the report.
The report says the FBI passed up many chances to cut its losses with the doomed Virtual Case File (VCF), instead going ahead with a system that ultimately cost taxpayers more than $100 million in wasted expenditures. Officials now say that a new program code-named Sentinel will rely on off-the-shelf software rather than the custom approach that contributed to problems with VCF. One official interviewed by the House staff said that, “On no planet I know does it make sense” to spend $17 million on testing the program. Others contended that “it was done for political reasons because the FBI believed it had to deliver something,” said the report.