In a report released Wednesday, the Office of the Inspector General expressed "serious concerns" about the progress of the FBI's project to overhaul its archaic computer system. It reported that the project would take at least nine months longer--and cost at least $26 million more--than originally planned.
Last month, the FBI ordered that some work be temporarily halted on the project because of problems. While the delay frustrated lawmakers, the FBI said the problems were minor and "had not compromised agents' ability to respond to threats."
The project is now projected to cost $451 million and take until 2011, according to the new report. The FBI's computer system has long been considered out of date, and the effort to overhaul it has failed once before with a different contractor, wasting more than $100 million. The FBI wants a new system to create a way to process, store and manage its investigative records, which are currently paper-based. From The New York Times:
In a paper-driven culture, the agency’s computers were so inadequate that many agents until several years ago could not send or receive e-mail messages, and had difficulty getting case histories and linking to other databases. In the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, agents in Florida had to send photographs of the hijackers by overnight mail to Washington because they could not send e-mail attachments.
More recently, events such as the Christmas Day bomb plot again underscored the need for intelligence agencies to be able to easily access, update and share existing data in order to "connect the dots" and head off immediate threats to national security.
Lockheed Martin, the nation's largest defense contractor, is primarily responsible for the overhaul, carrying a $305 million contract with the FBI. The company has recently been in the news for being hired to do nation-building in Africa by training Liberian prosecutors--a broader, more political role than the contractor has thus far played, according to The Wall Street Journal. Lockheed consistently spends millions each year lobbying the federal government on weapons spending and information technology.