FBI’s Trilogy Program Draws Senate Ire

A projected 50 percent cost overrun in the FBI’s IT infrastructure upgrade program has prompted the Senate Appropriations Committee to order the FBI to try again in its 2003 budget request. The $458 million project, known as Trilogy, was criticized last month by the Department of Justice’s inspector general for its sharply rising costs and the management of the program.

Trilogy, which is being designed by Dyncorp of Reston, Va., and San Diego-based Science Applications International , is expected to allow FBI agents to receive multi-media case files at their desks and to link various law enforcement agency databases.

Once completed, the FBI hopes to detect patterns in the large volume of information it collects. According to FBI, more than half of the information the agency currently collects is not scanned.

The cost overruns, however, have not impressed Congress. Sen. Judd Gregg (R.-N.H.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has called the program a “disaster,” adding “Programs such as Trilogy do not need more money. What they need is more management.”

Further reflecting Congress’ disenchantment with the FBI’s technology efforts, the Senate last week slashed $100 million in funding to FBI high-tech projects for 2003. The cuts must still be reconciled with the House budget efforts.

“FBI software and hardware contracts for Trilogy have essentially become gold-plated. The cost is soaring. The schedule is out of control,” Gregg recently said in a floor debate.

After the FBI reported it had used all of a $100 million supplemental fund for Trilogy, a Senate appropriation report filed earlier this month on the cost overruns stated, “This is not a surprise. The attempt to make up for 20 years of neglect in two frenzied years of spending was destined to fail. The FBI chose to squander this reserve. So when the funds are needed, none are available.”