Monday, June 12, 2006

More FBI tales

I've known some fine FBI agents. But when I read things like this back and forth between the US Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Penn), chair of the Judiciary Committee, and the Government Accountability Office about the FBI's information technology modernization program called Trilogy, I'm just not inspired:

Specter: In the Trilogy report, you reported a number of issues that perplexed this Committee. For example, 1205 pieces of equipment, worth an estimated $7.6 million, went missing—some of which were classified or secured computers. The project was overbudget and overdeadline, and around $10 million was wasted. Which of the issues that led to the delinquency of the Trilogy project did you find to be the most alarming? Is that issue still of concern to you? How has the FBI addressed it?

GAO: We reported on two fundamental issues that we consider to be key contributors to the problems we identified with the Trilogy project. First, the review and approval process for Trilogy contractor invoices did not provide an adequate basis for verifying that goods and services billed were actually received by FBI or that the amounts billed were appropriate. Second, FBI did not have an adequate process to ensure physical and financial accountability of assets purchased with Trilogy projectfunds. In addition, we were unable to determine if any of the missing assets contained confidential or sensitive information and data. Therefore, we recommended that FBI further investigate those missing assets to determine whether any confidential or sensitive information and data may be exposed to unauthorized users. We understand that FBI is taking actions to implement our recommendations to resolve the fundamental issues we identified. We will evaluate FBI’s corrective actions as part of our normal recommendation follow-up process and during our review of the Sentinel project. Until corrective actions are fully implemented, both of these internal control issues will be a concern with Sentinel and other information technology projects at FBI.

Specter: In your testimony, you discuss that FBI could not locate 1,404 [pieces of equipment]; you adjusted the number to 1,205 when you were able to verify that the FBI had found 199 pieces of equipment. However, in its response to your report, FBI stated that it had accounted for around 800 of the remaining items [of equipment]. Are you satisfied with the FBI’s efforts to track these assets? Has the FBI given any explanation for the remaining roughly 400 assets that are completely unaccounted for?

GAO: In February 2006, FBI informed us that the approximately 800 remaining items, referred to above, that it believes it has now accounted for included (1) accountable assets not in FBI’s property system because they were either incorrectly identified as nonaccountable assets or mistakenly omitted, (2) defective equipment that was never recorded in the property system and was subsequently replaced, and (3) nonaccountable assets or components of accountable assets that were incorrectly bar coded. However, because FBI was not able to provide us with any evidence, such as location information, to support that it had actually accounted for these 800 assets, we could not definitively determine whether FBI had located these items. We considered these same issues during our audit in an effort to determine if assets were missing or merely miscoded. The FBI also has not provided any additional explanation for the remaining roughly 400 missing assets. The numerous control weaknesses identified in our report are major factors contributing to FBI’s continuing inability to find and definitively confirm the existence of these assets. Further, the fact that assets have not been properly accounted for to date means that they have been at risk of loss or misappropriation without detection since being delivered to FBI—in some cases, for several years. We will continue to monitor FBI’s progress on locating these assets as part of our review of FBI’s implementation of corrective actions to address our recommendations.

Oh, yeah. Sleep well tonight. The FBI is keeping us safe.

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