[ISN] FBI ripped for IT upgrade costs
isn at c4i.org
Wed Mar 22 02:39:39 EST 2006
[You have to wonder how far $52,000 would go in issuing basic e-mail
addresses for the NYC FBI intelligence analysts and agents?  - WK]
By Anne Broache
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
March 21, 2006
The FBI squandered $10.1 million on "questionable contractor
costs"--including custom-made ink pens and highlighters--and another
$7.6 million on missing equipment while upgrading its computer
systems, government auditors reported.
Since mid-2001, the FBI has been undertaking a massive project called
Trilogy, aimed at ushering its computer systems into the 21st century,
and the agency has already reached $500 million in reported costs.
One stage of the project--building a new infrastructure--was completed
in April 2004. But work on a revamped electronic case-management
software system has stalled, though the FBI said last week that it had
awarded its main contract for the system, known as Sentinel, to
defense tech giant Lockheed Martin. The agency expects that endeavor
to cost $425 million over the next six years.
An 87-page report  released Monday by the Government Accountability
Office faults the FBI for a number of "weaknesses" in its financial
dealings with contractors, including incorrect billings for overtime
hours worked, potentially inflated wages, excessive and first-class
airfare costs, and other invoice anomalies.
For example, Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), one of the FBI's
subcontractors, charged the agency $456,211 for services described
only as "other direct costs." When the GAO probed the company for more
information, it landed on an e-mail exchange hinting that CSC probably
didn't have enough information to approve the charge but did so
Some more explicitly identified expenses also raised questions for
government auditors. For instance, CACI, a subcontractor hired to do
training for the project, billed the FBI for more than $50,000 to
cover the cost of custom-made highlighters and pens.
The GAO faulted the FBI at length for its travel spending. According
to federal regulations, all travelers reimbursed by the government
must fly coach or economy class unless first-class travel is properly
authorized and justified. Auditors determined that no documentation
provided by the FBI or CSC could justify 19 first-class tickets,
costing more than $20,000, 75 "unusually expensive" coach-class
tickets, totaling more than $100,000, and other pricey fares.
The FBI was also unable to locate 1,200 pieces of equipment, including
desktop and laptop computers, printers and servers, the auditors
reported. In general, the agency has failed for years to keep adequate
records of the gadgets it purchases, leaving the devices prone to
being "lost or stolen without detection," the report charged.
Overreliance on contractors to keep tabs on equipment and other
records was largely to blame for the mishaps, the auditors suggested.
They recommended 27 courses of action, including more careful vetting
of expenses, closer documentation of contractor charges, and revising
agency policies to track equipment with a greater level of detail.
FBI representatives did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
In its written response to the GAO, the agency said it had "accounted
for" more than 1,000 of the missing or improperly documented items as
of January 2006. It also said it agreed with GAO's recommendations and
was committed to making improvements in its management processes.
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