If We've Already Thrown Away Hundreds Of Millions On Useless FBI Computer Systems, What's An Extra $50 Million?

from the taxpayer-money? dept

Remember the FBI’s computer system? The one that wasn’t just late and overbudget, but also didn’t work and was useless for finding terrorists? The one that was so bad that a computer science professor asked to review the system said that he planned to commit a crime spree the day it was turned on, knowing that he’d be safe? This was the same system that it still took them several months to decide to scrap entirely, despite having invested hundreds of millions of dollars in it. Soon afterwards, of course, they announced plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on an entirely new system, because, apparently, learning from past failures is too much trouble. So, it should probably come as no surprise to find out that the FBI is complaining that the feds haven’t allocated them enough money this year for the computer system, and they want another $56.7 million. Hey, when you’re talking about a $500 million system, what’s another $50 million or so? Of course, it does seem like there’s some funny math going on here (don’t need a computer for that!). They claim that despite this shortage, the project is still on schedule and within budget. Also, if the government doesn’t allocate the money, they’ll take it from other projects — but claim it won’t impact the budgets of anything else. Perhaps they’re just going to use some counterfeit money they’ve seized somewhere. Considering what an awful job some of the contractors on this system have done, perhaps they deserver some funny money instead of taxpayers’ real cash.

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Comments on “If We've Already Thrown Away Hundreds Of Millions On Useless FBI Computer Systems, What's An Extra $50 Million?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Give me...

The first time around the requirements were constantly in flux. From someone who worked as contractor and privy to the conversations the Gov doesn’t or didn’t know what it wanted.

Definitely a case of two many chefs in the kitchen with poor project management skills. The truth is they do have some projects that actually work and protect American citizens, unlike this abomination. It would be nice if they looked at their hiring process and hired based on skill and experience instead of someone with only education who doesn’t have a clue.

Anonymous Coward says:

do you know what it took for us to even atepmt thi

It took us several years and a lot of hard work, why just the other day I had to reprogram a whole sting of AZ1000 speak and spell units. JO-Bob said that the stings were to short and we had to change the input buffers.. well 30,000 lines of code later It can still say MOOO, but unfortunately the duck isn’t working

Liberty Dave says:

Government waste is endless...

And we let it happen by voting for these dolts over and over again.

In the “real” world, you know where you actually have to stick to a budget and can’t go over it without losing your job or something else very bad happening, like your business closing or bad financial trouble, you can’t commit this type of atrocious waste.

But the government can, and they do, every single day.

It’s disgusting, and it goes on in many more areas than just the FBI. And you can be the company getting the contract was NOT given the contract because they’re the best, brightest, or most competent. I’m sure someone who own/runs the company got the contract due to political reasons, as a favor or something.

This is big government.

Vote Libertarian.

|333173|3|_||3 says:

1) Read the second article down from ths pne.
2) WTF sare the actual requireemnts, since no-one actually seems to have any idea what hey are trying to do, specifically. (I don’t mean the specs, even objectives would be good to know.)
3) Annual bugeting was a safeguard laid down in the Magna Carta as a protection for the Nobles to prevent the King ruling without Parliament in 1215. HTis forces the HEad of State to ask for money each year, rater than getting money for ten years and ignoring Parliament/Congress/whatever they call it in any given country. (THe Queen technically has veto power in the UK, she just rarely exercises it, if she was evil and got a decade of funds, she could in theory ignore parlaiment). WHile this is less of an issue in the USA, where Congress can still override a presidential veto, if you gavce Bush money for the rest of his term, he could block or delay most laws he is opposed to for long enough that they become meaningless.

Lanesha Young says:


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Liberty Dave says:

Re: To Stu

No, Libertarians aren’t better at installing computer systems, and you’re well aware of that, but I get it, you were being sarcastic, albeit poorly.

Libertarians would do away with anything that’s not specifically in the constitution, and leave the rest up to the states, as specified in the constitution.

And Libertarians would not waste tax dollars like the two major parties, and they would severely restrict government growth…by forcing government to stick to what’s specifically listed in the constitution.

Proof of this is the fact that no libertarians ever take any “matching funds” from the government for political campaigns.

And as to your poor sarcasm, Libertarians would go to the free market to find someone to install such a system if it were deemed neccessary, and the company responsible for installing such a system would be held accountable legally for the construction and maintenance of the system, and whatever else is specified in the contract.

Inside Man says:

500 million blown ?

Once again the liberals are crying foul without reading or knowing all the details. For all the whop la being made no one truly understands what the situation is.

1. The system is complete.
2. It does do what it was designed to do.
3. Testing was complete.
4. It was discovered during testing that the system could not run itunes, hence the need for a rebuild.

|333173|3|_||3 says:


Pay when you get something which works, stupid. The rules should be simple: tender an offer, listing the circumstances which will require you to charge extra, and specify ythe completion date. THe amount paid drops by 10% each month after the porject is due to be completed, and no money is pad until it is done. THis way, things might get done on thime and on budget

I agree with #18

rahrens (profile) says:

make sense

Look, I know it’s popular to slam the gov’t for spending money. I don’t like my taxes, either, but because I am a gov’t employee, they take my paycheck out of my own salary. Funny how that works…

@ 2 is right. The government is forced, by the Constitution, to budget money annually. That is why they can approve a project for $500 million and only budget $100 mil per year for, say, 5 years. If the project is ahead of schedule, and you don’t want to slow it down (which can cost additional money), you may have to go back and ask for an advance on some of the $400 mil that is allocated for the out years. That can keep you going, and productive. If the additional money is not allowed, the delay can cost you more money to the contractor due to contractual obligations. You don’t want that!

#23, you can’t do it that way. There are rules that gov’t contracting officials have to adhere to, and they specify how you can and can’t penalize contractors. You don’t just drop the amount they are due per month, you tack on penalties, which are tied to due dates. And, no, on most contracts, a contractor doesn’t get paid until after he gives the government a deliverable, or finishes a performance within a specified time period, unless he is on a cost plus fixed fee contract. On those, he gets paid for expenses periodically, and the final payment includes his fixed fee. Such contracts are most often performance contracts, which often DO include performance penalties.

But complicated IT contracts, as many of you know, aren’t simple animals. Sometimes, the requirements will change. Sometimes, when you find out that technology has changed, the customer wants more to include the new stuff. Then it’s back to the drawing board, which costs more $$$. Sometimes you find out halfway through, that you just can’t do it that way, and you’ve gotta change tactics. (Vista, anyone?)

Yes, the FBI deserves a lot of condemnation for blowing the initial contract which bombed. It was badly managed. But asking for what is essentially an advance on future budgeted amounts, isn’t necessarily bad.

It does, however, merit watching!

Liberty Dave says:

Re: To Rahrens

It’s thinking like yours that allows the government to keep growing and wasting and growing and wasting.

You say “It does, however, merit watching!”. Yeah, sure.

We’ll watch it alright. We’ll watch them waste again and again and nothing will ever be done except for one or more people will be “punished” in some fashion, maybe relieved of duty or something, but then the next group of government wasters will just go back in and waste again, until caught doing something bad, then the cycle repeats itself.

Why do we keep allowing this type of thing to happen?

My opinion is that people are just too busy with their lives to worry too much about it, and don’t want to take the time to do more about it than write down a comment on sites like this.

If you really want this type of thing to stop you have to stop voting for the two big government parties that only care about expanding government, not about what’s truly right or good for people.

Fae Kinnitt says:

Re: make sense

*applause* Thank you for ‘making sense’ and explaining the process. I’m so tired of people dogging the FBI over that project when they have no clue what really happened. A little more research on the subject will explain what the objectives were and why the project was deemed a failure, if you’re really that curious. Everyone has been, or will be at some point, screwed over by a contractor with “expertise” whose work you can’t truly monitor or micromanage yourself. Because if that was the case, you’d do the project yourself. Or keep the project in-house. But since that’s not the case, you can’t really know what the end result will be until you get there..regardless of contracts and promises. In the meantime, you do the best you can to monitor the progress. Even if that means looking like an ass by having someone else (with expertise) come in to advise you that the whole thing sucks. And taxpayers will never see that money again regardless of how it’s spent or wasted. And I’d rather see the FBI spend that money trying to get the system they need, than see it wasted somewhere else. I think the focus needs to be on the contractors, not the FBI. The FBI has since started a campaign to recruit more IT professionals. That, after relying on contractors for mostly everything…

Brad (user link) says:

The real reason it doesn't work

The real reason it doesn’t work is that they have no executive will to make everyone use it – and more money won’t fix that.

Everyone prefers to use the fragmented systems or procedures they already have in place, and can easily veto a move to the new system by saying “it will compromise or derail investigations and prosecutions already underway.”

At some point they will have to bite the bullet and switch over to something new, or else design a system to interoerate and use the existing systems, for example tying it together with some specially written web services middleware.

FRH says:

Standard Practice

The US Government functions in a way that always amazes me. We in business try to apply common business logic to federal organizations and we continually return to the same conclusion, this is crazy! Cost overruns and failed projects are the fault of weak, undefined, and constantly changing requirements. CoreFLS at VA was a great example. KPMG involved in the CoreFLS project started with a 190K task order and ended up with 220 Million dollars! Nothing was ever delivered to VA and the companies involved are still out doing business with the only consequences of this failed effort was to fire a couple of VA employees and some of the companies involved changed their names. I knew those people at VA and they depended on the information they were given to make decisions. Of course they were wrong and now you have IV& V requirements in the federal space. How ridiculous is it when the government has to bring in an outside verification resource to verify they are getting what they ordered, NUTS! The government is not a business and never will be. If we are really curious about why this is try reading the “Warfare State”, written in the late 50s by a former president and the supreme allied commander in Europe during World War II.

lil'bit says:

what a joke!

Government has never been like business nor should it be – the responsibilities and requirements are different. Those of us old enough to remember hearing Good Ol’ Boy Ronnie talking about how if CEOs ran businesses the way the politicians were running the country they would be fired, bankrupt, whatever.
Government doesn’t have to make a profit; gov’t spending should be dictated by need and the financing should be based on what funding is required. That’s the opposite of business, where spending is dictated by revenue.

My point though is, why do people still think business, large or small, public or private, somehow operates better than the government? Haven’t you been reading the news for the past 6 or so years? Find me a company with as long a history as the US government and I’ll show you a corporation with just as much waste and beauracracy as any governement.

Here is one example of a corporation being just as stupid as the FBI. Back in the 80s (I think it was), the CEO of Levi Strauss spent millions on outside consultants to develop a restructuring plan. Shortly before implementation, that CEO left and the new one tossed out that multi-million dollar consultant’s report so the new CEO could pay $$ to a different consulting firm for a different re-structuring plan.

I cannot believe that people like the head of GM, a company that can’t compete or turn a profit, earns millions of dollars a year in salary, bonus and stock options, while the little guy on the assembly line, with no power or input or control, gets to see his union negotiate wage cuts, so he can keep his job and medical benefits.

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