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FBI anti-terror network scares experts

'Not on a path to success'

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The FBI's Trilogy project - a plan to replace ther Bureau's existing local and wide area networks - has been slammed by technology experts from the National Research Council.

The NRC said the $600m project was "not on a path to success" and failed to adequately support the FBI's focus on terrorism since 9/11. The report calls on the bureau to build anti-terrorism systems from scratch. The NRC described the FBI's efforts in the last twelve months as "late and limited" and said its upgrade programs "fall far short of what is required."

The project, with an initial budget of $380m, was launched in 2000 and should have been completed last year. Some of it is up and running now but crucial parts of the system won't be working until the end of this year.

Researchers were also worried that systems for investigations and those for intelligence gathering have significant differences. The report is released next week but AP got hold of a copy.

The report described a decision to allow agents to start using Virtual Case File, which will allow agents across the world to share information, before proper testing as "highly risky". It said the decision was "nearly guaranteed to mission-critical failures and further delays". The FBI was urged to carry out proper testing first, and to leave the existing system in place while any problems are ironed out. The researchers think development of the system should stop until a backup plan is in place.

The report states: "Current contracting and management problems, aggravated by frequent turnover among key FBI staff, make it unsurprising that Trilogy is significantly behind schedule and over budget,"

Last week the FBI appointed Zalmai Azmi chief information officer after six months as acting CIO. Azmi was previously CIO for the Executive Office for United States Attorneys at the Department of Justice.

CSC is lead supplier for the project. ®

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