Fourth, the FBI’s contract management process is inadequate, and contract schedules lack the specificity necessary to determine whether a project is making adequate progress within schedule and budget constraints. This weakness can be remedied through the aggressive use of standard contract and project management tools.

Finally, while the FBI’s IT team includes a number of very capable individuals, the overall human resource base for IT is not nearly adequate to meet the challenges it faces. For Trilogy and subsequent IT projects to have access to the human talent they need to succeed, the FBI must dramatically grow its own internal expertise in IT and IT contract management as quickly as possible.


The FBI’s Trilogy IT modernization program is intended to upgrade the IT infrastructure of the FBI by providing a high-speed network linking the offices of the FBI, modern workstations and software within each office for every FBI employee, and a user application known as the Virtual Case File to enhance the ability of agents to organize, access, and analyze information. However, the Trilogy program’s development and implementation have been troubled. The Trilogy program has been the subject of a number of General Accounting Office (GAO) and Department of Justice (DOJ) inspector general investigations, as well as a source of considerable concern to the U.S. Congress. In July 2003, the FBI requested the assistance of the National Research Council (NRC) to review the Trilogy program and the progress that had been made, and further to consider other nascent IT efforts to support the bureau’s new priorities in counterterrorism.

In response to this request, the NRC convened the Committee on the FBI’s Trilogy Information Technology Modernization Program, consisting of experts with considerable experience in large-scale IT deployments. The committee met twice in 2-day sessions to receive briefings from the FBI about Trilogy and other related matters, and except as explicitly noted otherwise, those briefings constitute the factual base for this effort.


In the wake of the events of September 11, 2001, the FBI is undergoing a significant expansion of its mission responsibilities and a reordering of its priorities to emphasize its counter-terrorist mission, though it still retains its very important criminal investigation mission. The FBI recognizes very well that it will become ever more dependent on information technology in the future to manage the large quantities of information associated with these missions.

It is challenging for any organization engaged in a complex set of activities to introduce new technologies and to reengineer its key processes to exploit them effectively. It is doubly challenging, as it is for the FBI, to do so when under intense operational pressures—the FBI’s traditional work must continue while new technology is introduced and while a culture more adapted to the use of IT is evolved. And it is triply so for the FBI in the face of the added strain of its new focus—preventive counterterrorism—in which mission success demands a different mind-set, different operational skills, and the exploitation of an expanded set of information sources.

The FBI has made significant progress in certain areas of its IT modernization program in the last year or so. For example, it has achieved the modernization of the computing hardware

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