A Q&A with the FBI's data czar
Q: Now, tell me the contrasts.
A: The contrastswe don't have the capability in ACS right now. Our record management is paper-based, our signature authority is paper based, so it's time consuming.
Q: When did the director know for sure that this stuff was not going to work?
A: I would say, probably in May was when I had, I had to brief him and . . .
Q: May 2004?
Q: You briefed himwhat did you say?
A: I told him, I said, surface software is not going to work. And he said, why? And I said, well there's a trend that is developing since my arrival, and [in] December they gave us the software, in January we went back to them and said, well, there are some deficiencies in the software. They said, well, there are 17 deficiencies, we decomposed the 17 deficiencies, they turned into 59 deficiencies. Then we had a two-week sit-down with SAIC and those 59 turned into 400 deficiencies. So there's a trend developing and unless we do an in-depth analysis of the software and invest another year and another $56 million in this program, it is ludicrous, and it just doesn't make any sense. You know, I have a base-line software that I was told that 90 percent was ready, yet they were asking for another $56 million to develop the other 10 percent. Now where's the logic in this one. So . . . and up to that point, while I was meeting SAIC on . . . almost on a weekly basis and doing a proper support with them and meeting with new chief technology officer and new president for the business side of the house, I was collecting information, you know, because this is a tough decision for a new CIO to make. You know, we have to spend, I don't know, about $67/$80 million at that point, 3 years of investment, we had a number of program managers in here working on this, the whole country was waiting for it, and here you are saying, "You know what, sir, I'm sorry, but we have to throw it away." And the question was like, based on what? You know, I had our evaluation, I had the trend, I had all that information, but it wasn't independent, and that was one of the biggest things that I knew would come back and haunt us. You know, it was FBI's evaluation. So, that's why I suggest in . . . again, at the end of May and . . . in June I told him, I said, "Sir, here's what I suggest. We will take the recommendations that the National Research Council has made, we will take a segment of the program that is really mature and develop it forward in a prototype in a pilot mode and then we'll hire an independent company to do an end-to-end evaluation of VCF, to come back and tell us, is it worth [it] for [the] FBI to invest another $56 million and another year plus to move forward or not?"