Contractor finally delivers upgraded FBI computer system

Despite delays in meeting an accelerated schedule for a state-of-the-art computer network for the FBI, systems integrator Computer Sciences Corp. announced final delivery of the Trilogy computer system last week.

"We hit a few bumps on this one, but ended it on a high note," Paul Cofoni, president of CSC's federal sector, told National Journal's Technology Daily in an interview. Working on Trilogy was "a career milestone for all of us involved."

The FBI awarded the Trilogy contract to CSC in May 2001 to move the bureau from a largely paper-based information system with outdated information technology to a modern network providing agents with access to text, audio and video files at their desktop.

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, however, the FBI put the Trilogy contract on an accelerated schedule, and CSC's failure to meet key benchmarks drew ire from senior FBI officials and federal lawmakers. Trilogy initially was budgeted at $379.8 million over three years, and Congress budgeted an additional $78 million to meet an accelerated delivery date of summer 2002.

In March, however, Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., chairman of the subcommittee that oversees the FBI budget, criticized FBI Director Robert Mueller for falling behind on Trilogy's delivery date. "This panel has dedicated massive amount of dollars and time to working with the FBI" on the project, Gregg said. "It's now $2 million over budget and ... years behind schedule." Mueller maintained that Trilogy would be delivered in April and said the additional funds were "money well spent."

Cofoni said the advanced delivery schedule was "too advanced" given the scope of the project, and even with extra funds the contractor was severely taxed in meeting the delivery deadline.

"We didn't freeze the final design of the system [with the FBI] until last summer," he said, adding that getting all field offices to agree on common technical standards incurred additional delays. "We probably should have done a better job of escalating. If we had been working at a higher level at the FBI, we would have solved these issues faster," he added. Cofoni said CSC "had to scramble" to find extra staff with the appropriate security clearances to meet the accelerated schedule. "The FBI did help us by expediting the clearance process, but it was still quite an effort," he added.

The Trilogy project involved three phases of meeting specific deadlines, and ultimately provided new network, hardware and software to 29,000 users in more than 600 locations. According to CSC, many FBI employees prior to Trilogy were working on desktop computers nearly eight years old and unable to run basic office software applications. Many officers were connected to the Internet at speeds slower than most home users and lacked reliable office e-mail, the company said.

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