No Email, But At Least The FBI Has Really Sweet Pens To Write Letters

from the take-a-memo dept

Okay, so we already noted that the FBI is having problems giving all of its agents email accounts, saying that it's just too expensive. However, it appears that they have no problem at all spending $50,000 on "custom-made highlighters and pens," which we hope their agents are using wisely in place of those email accounts. This was among the $10 million in "questionable contractor costs" that a new audit has discovered, not to mention the hundreds of millions of dollars wasted on the useless computer system they had to throw out. Hope those FBI agents have good penmanship.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    dorpus, Mar 21st, 2006 @ 7:54pm

    Should the FBI communicate by internet?

    In their case, wouldn't it be better to use a proprietary, non-internet technology for security purposes? Even if they use encryption, couldn't enemies still detect when agents receive email, and infer what is happening?

    It could be that the FBI does use such proprietary technologies, and they are allowing the media to make them look bad, so their enemies underestimate them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Mike (profile), Mar 21st, 2006 @ 7:57pm

    Re: Should the FBI communicate by internet?

    In their case, wouldn't it be better to use a proprietary, non-internet technology for security purposes? Even if they use encryption, couldn't enemies still detect when agents receive email, and infer what is happening?

    They do have an internal email system that they use already. This is for contact with people outside the FBI.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Mousky, Mar 21st, 2006 @ 8:27pm

    Leave it to the government to mess up

    Governments and computer systems just do not mix. I work for a municipality and the whole computer system is a mess. We used to have a database sytem that stored information about every parcel, basic development application data (file #, general info about application, Planner, etc), permits, and so on. All the data was linked. You could look up previous development applications and permits. It wasn't graphical but it was useful. Unfortunately, the database and the server it was on, were 'dying'.


    The time came when it was decided to move to a graphic geographica information system (called the EIS). You could bring up an air photo of the city and display various layers. All the layers were geocoded. From a visual point-of-view, it was a great system. From an information pov it was a piece of crap. Not all the information from the old database was transferred over. The solution was to introduce a new system (called AMANDA) for tracking permits, development applications, etc.

    Unfortunately, the two systems are incompatible with each other. Despite the fact that zoning and planning districts are geocoded in the EIS, the AMANDA system is unable to pull this information - the data has to be entered in manually. I waste time on a function that should be automated. Further complication things, whenever a new module is added to the AMANDA system we experience problems with the data.

    Why did this happen? Because the politicians, despite promising better customer service, cheap out on the projects and because no overall information needs study was done. Instead of improving productivity, we reduce it. So much for saving money and improving customer service.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Justin Martin (profile), Mar 21st, 2006 @ 8:35pm

    "custom-made highlighters and pens"

    hey now, the FBI has to get their black highlighters somewhere

     

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  5.  
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    B, Mar 21st, 2006 @ 9:28pm

    haha

    ^^^thats funny

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2006 @ 10:04pm

    "we hope their agents are using wisely"- The article kind of implies that it was for the contractors use, though supposedly they were going to use them to teach the FBI guys how to work a computer. Lucky for me I was able to learn to use my computer without the use of any highlighters or pens.

     

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  7.  
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    Krutch, Mar 21st, 2006 @ 10:06pm

    Can't say I really understand what is going on here with the FBI. How hard is it to setup an exhange server? Seriously? and if they are worried about security then why not keep the exchange server on their SIPRNET? Whatever.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    c0ke, Mar 21st, 2006 @ 10:35pm

    Are they special pens?

    Half highlighter, half pen, half dart shooter? I hope they're sales guy is getting a good deal on those pens.

     

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  9.  
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    Frankie Robertson, Mar 22nd, 2006 @ 2:45am

    Goverments annoy me.

     

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  10.  
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    Frankie Robertson, Mar 22nd, 2006 @ 2:50am

    Goverments annoy me.

    They can't seem to do anything in house. Why contract it out to a company that's full of suits and is just going to rip you off when you can do it with a couple of small teams (5-8 people) with good equipment and a large budget for about 1/10th or less of the price and still be paying them a high wage? I live in the UK and the keep messing up on the IT side too. They outsource it to expensive companies that write no real code and are just a bit crappy.

     

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  11.  
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    Chris H, Mar 22nd, 2006 @ 5:15am

    Re: Leave it to the government to mess up

    Why did this happen? Because the politicians, despite promising better customer service, cheap out on the projects and because no overall information needs study was done. Instead of improving productivity, we reduce it. So much for saving money and improving customer service.


    Unfortunately, this happens in a corporate environment as well. The company I work for spent tens of thousands of dollars on a software solution, that when released did not perform half of the functions it needed to. But most importantly it slowed down the users versus the old system. They claimed to have gotten input from end users before starting development. But it was obvious they either ignored it, or asked the WRONG people.

     

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  12.  
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    Zeroth404, Mar 22nd, 2006 @ 5:46am

    Oh I'm sorry, you must have gotten the impression that our culture as a whole is even remotely inteligent.

    Silly you.

     

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  13.  
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    dani, Mar 22nd, 2006 @ 6:50am

    Re:

    "Oh I'm sorry, you must have gotten the impression that our culture as a whole is even remotely inteligent."


    Then Zeroth appeared...reminding everyone that, no, not everyone is that intelligent.

    We would hope at least part of the FBI and government in general could be more logical than "society as a whole"

     

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  14.  
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    IT GUY, Mar 22nd, 2006 @ 9:01am

    Re: Should the FBI communicate by internet?

    It could be that the FBI does use such proprietary technologies, and they are allowing the media to make them look bad, so their enemies underestimate them.


    What??? A government agency do something intelligent???? You give them TOO much credit

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    Topher3105, Mar 22nd, 2006 @ 9:37am

    I think that that is the point

    It isn't expensive to setup an email server, just get any 386 and a linux distro. The expense comes from ensuring that your email server is secure (I mean, national secrets secure, not just secure from Windows bugs) and that the email being sent and received is encrypted and secure. That is where the expense is.

    But true, any government organization or department will have tons of questionable wastes of money, and fancy pens and highlighters rank right up their of the kind of excess the government is used to.

     

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  16.  
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    Larry Borsato, Mar 22nd, 2006 @ 2:23pm

    FBI can't afford email?

    Are they looking for a bigger budget? Is there anybody that actually believes that it would cost too much to give every agent an email account? They could always sign up for Gmail.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    Who Cares, Mar 22nd, 2006 @ 11:17pm

    Government still exists

    If the government really was as stupid as you all would have me to believe, I think the joke is really on you, because they are still here and you have nothing better to do than to trash them.

     

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  18.  
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    dumpster diver, Mar 23rd, 2006 @ 10:06pm

    Dumpster diving, anyone?

    "hundreds of millions of dollars wasted on the useless computer system they had to throw out."

    Anyone know where their dumpsters are? I could have some fun with that...

     

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  19.  
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    hugh manswell, Mar 25th, 2006 @ 11:21am

    government dumbness

    The government has been doing a better job at trashing their own crediability, than anyone else.

    How much dumber can dumb get.

    Their 'mistakes' are so stupid, that there's got to be a good joke or 3 in there, somewhere.

    It's like watching a bad reality TV show, that's just not entertaining.
    Their stupid blunders are just pulling their popularity ratings further down.


    I just hope that the highlighters were 2-sided with different colors...black and black, since they don't seem to know which end is up!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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