By John Foley and J. Nicholas Hoover
September 15, 2010
Following a July decision to freeze the last two phases of development
on its Sentinel case-management system, the FBI now plans to take over
management of the project from its primary contractor, Lockheed Martin.
The agency plans to use agile development processes to complete the
project using its own employees and other technology partners, while
reducing its reliance on Lockheed Martin. FBI CIO Chad Fulgham, in an
interview with InformationWeek, described the move as "a significant
change in the scope and responsibility" for Lockheed Martin.
The decision represents a bold move by the agency to salvage the
Sentinel project, which is currently budgeted to cost $451 million, from
multiple delays and rising costs. Fulgham said his goal is to complete
the project on budget and without further delays.
FBI director Robert Mueller indicated in April that Sentinel, originally
scheduled for completion in 2009, would be pushed back into 2011 due to
delays and stop work orders. Fulgham now puts the target completion date
at Sept. 2011, the end of the government's fiscal year, but acknowledges
that agile development projects can be difficult to forecast.
Development on Sentinel, currently paused, should begin again by
October, Fulgham said.
The FBI awarded Sentinel to Lockheed Martin in March 2006 following the
failure of an earlier effort (called the Virtual Case File system) to
replace its outdated system for managing case records, saying it had
learned its lessons from Virtual Case File's shortcomings. Sentinel was
originally due to be completed over four phases. Two phases have been
delivered to this point, with most of the system's hardware and software
infrastructure in place. In July, the FBI released enhancements to the
system's user interface, new electronic forms, digital signature
features, and additional collaborative features, and more than 5,000
users now login to Sentinel weekly. However, much of the system's
functionality, including a new case management database and some
reporting capabilities, has yet to be put in place, and the existing
outdated Automated Case Support system has yet to be retired.
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