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FBI Rejects Its New Case File Software

Last month, Government Computing News reported that according to a report by the inspector general's office at the Justice Department, Virtual Case File would not suffice.

A spokesman for Science Applications said yesterday that the company delivered an "operational" version of the system to the FBI last month.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, right, conferred with Sept. 11 panelist Jamie S. Gorelick last year. "There were problems we did not anticipate," he said about the new computer software yesterday. (Lucian Perkins -- The Washington Post)

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He added that the contract is valued at $143 million but declined further comment. The Los Angeles Times and Government Computing News reported that the FBI has spent nearly $170 million on the project so far.

The FBI would not comment on its costs or whether it would seek to recoup them. It said it is now examining systems built by other vendors and software commercially available "off the shelf."

The bureau said that despite the setback, it has developed new capabilities that allow its agents to share information, though it provided no specifics.

The agency also has launched a separate investigative data warehouse, which collects and analyzes counterterrorism data from a variety of sources, including investigative reports from other intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

That did not mollify Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), who said he has been frustrated by the FBI's lack of responsiveness to Congress on the issue.

"The FBI's long-anticipated Virtual Case File has been a train wreck in slow motion," he said in a statement issued last night. "As recently as last May, the FBI was still claiming that VCF would be completed by the end of 2004, and that it would at last give the FBI the 'cutting-edge technology' it needs. Now we learn that the FBI began to explore new options last August, because it feared that VCF was going to fail. . . . The FBI needs to stop hiding its problems and begin confronting them early on."

Staff writer Dan Eggen contributed to this report.

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