After bungling its first attempt, the FBI is proposing to build a computer system as much as three times more expensive than its ill-fated predecessor and might not allow the bureau to communicate with other agencies, says a Justice Department inspector general’s report quoted by the Los Angeles Times. The bureau would spend $400 million to $500 million on the “Sentinel” network. A group led by Lockheed Martin Corp. of Bethesda, Md., is the leading contender for the job. A year ago, the bureau scrapped its first attempted upgrade, the Virtual Case File, which cost about $170 million.
Inspector General Glenn Fine expressed concern that the project manager for Sentinel was a CIA employee on loan to the FBI for two years with the possibility of a one-year extension. Fine cited several concerns about implementing the Sentinel project, which is expected to take four years, including the bureau’s ability to track and control costs. “The FBI has not yet adequately examined or discussed Sentinel’s ability to connect with external systems” – including those in other offices in the Justice Department, the Department of Homeland Security and other intelligence agencies – Fine wrote. He said the Drug Enforcement Administration planned to deploy its own new case management system this year and that it is not compatible with Sentinel as now designed.