FBI and Secret Service Struggle with Outdated Computer Systems

Saturday, March 20, 2010
(photo: Computer Museum History Center)

In a story about ongoing computer problems at the Secret Service, ABC News remarked that the agency lagged behind the rest of the federal government, which had modernized its computer systems. On the contrary, the Secret Service is not alone, and, in fact, has nothing on the FBI when it comes to bungled IT upgrades.

The FBI has spent years failing to install a brand new computer system. It first turned to Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), spending millions of dollars on new mainframes that never worked out. Then, the bureau awarded Lockheed Martin a $300 million contract to get it into the 21st century, complete with a functioning email system. Alas, the overhaul has been pushed back once again, causing another $30 million in cost overruns.
“We’ve been through this song and dance before,” Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) told The New York Times. “Wouldn’t you think after hundreds of millions of dollars being wasted that they’d finally get it right?”
The same could be said of the Secret Service, which is still relying on 1980s computer technology. The agency was exposed by ABC News for having a system in place that allowed only 60% of its computer to work. Its IT restructuring is expected to cost at least $771 million over five years.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
F.B.I. Faces New Setback in Computer Overhaul (by Eric Lichtblau, New York Times)


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