A Q&A with the FBI's data czar
Q: Why not tank it right then? You're the CIO; you knew it wasn't going to work.
A: Like I said, I didn't have all of the information. I had probably 10 percent of the information and that 10 percent was alarming enough to launch a full investigation of the software.
Q: By then, Director Mueller had a pretty good idea this wasn't going to work then?
A: I'll be honest with you, I think he was so hopeful that the software's going to work.
A: Because nobody could believe that after three years and all of this money, we didn't have it.
Q: You knew it wasn't going to work, right?
A: Pretty much, I was confident that it didn't work.
Q: He didn't believe it?
A: It was hard for everyone, for everyone, I mean, for all of management, for all of our users, I mean, we couldn't fathom it three years later. You know, $70/80 million later, we don't have anything to show.
Q: The thing that was more interesting was that the director had taken a personal interest in this and had personally managed it, right?
A: Well . . . I will tell you that in 2004 I have met with the director twice a day, every morning and every evening on information technology. So, I know how engaged he was and how much he wanted to know, especially about VCF. When they [SAIC] came back and we had this meeting, and they ask for $56 million and another year, and at the end they said, they are not going guarantee the delivery of the document management system, the record management system . . . it was like, well if you're not going to guarantee delivery of records management system, how are you going to get all of my data from legacy system into the new system. If you can't guarantee this, this piece is not going to happen.
That was a short meeting. And we left and I looked at the director, I said, "We'll take a two-track approach. I'll take the most mature part of the VCF, we'll move forward with it, we'll deliver something by December of 2004." Because we wanted to do a live pilot, real data, in one of our field offices and the other track would be that we're going to do an evaluation of the software, all 730,000 lines of code, we will see how healthy that software is, we'll look at . . . implementation, performance; we'll look at architecture, all of that stuff and I said, at the same time we'll ask for an independent evaluation of commercial-off-the-shelf-products. Are there products that can easily be integrated into VCF, shorten the pipeline. If we decide we're going to go with VCF, can we, you know, infuse some new technologies, commercial-off-the-shelf? So, when I presented that in January, sorry, in June, he approved it and we moved forward.
Q: So, when did the director finally accept that this was not going well? When would you say?