FBI puts Sentinel on hold

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The FBI will delay starting new work on Sentinel, its web-based case file application, FBI Director Robert Mueller told a House panel March 17.

Mueller's decision to prolong  Sentinel's second phase and delay additional work on its third and fourth phases could add $30 million to the project's price tag, Congressional sources told the New York Times.

Sentinel is a $451 million effort to let the FBI digitally process, store and manage investigative leads and case data. Lockheed Martin is the prime, having won a task order competition for the project in 2006. Sentinel is meant to be delivered in four increments, or "phases," each building on each other.

Mueller told the House Appropriations commerce, justice and science subcommittee that the FBI is adjusting the system "so that when we roll it out, it would be successful."

"On the one hand there were certain things that users requested," Mueller said according to a transcript of the hearing quoted by Government Computer News.  "Secondly there were coding issues and thirdly we want to make certain that the system when it goes out meets the, I guess it would be the infrastructure requirements."

In June 2007, the FBI announced that it had fully deployed phase 1 of Sentinel, providing FBI employees with user-friendly, web-based access to data stored in the FBI's Automated Case Support system, the archaic case file system Sentinel is meant to replace. Phase 1 also keeps and displays summaries of individual users cases and has a "Squad Workbox" feature for supervisors to manage resources and assign leads, according to a FBI press release from 2007.

The Justice Department inspector general reported in fall 2009 that the project was three months behind its already-rebaselined schedule, nine months behind its original timetable. Even with the delay, Sentinel was to have been completed by late 2010, something that now can't happen until at least 2011.

For more:
- check out this New York Times article
- read this Government Computer News article
- here's a November 2009 report from the Justice Department inspector general

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