No (IT) Fear Here
The FBI’s CIO says we should pay no attention to the man behind the curtain:
The FBI must overhaul its personnel practices, shape up its enterprise architecture and embrace commercial software, or it risks another case management system fiasco, analysts inside and outside the government say. […]
In a recent letter [to Congress] GAO cited some risks, including an incomplete enterprise architecture and the need to hire qualified IT workers.
FBI CIO Zalmai Azmi responded to GAO’s concerns in a letter to GCN citing reforms that are intended to avoid another meltdown.
Azmi rejected the auditors’ view that the bureau’s fledgling enterprise architecture, poor contractor performance measurement and undermanned technology cadre were unequal to the task of launching Sentinel.
The technical issues associated with such a monster project aside, the human capital aspect of this issue seems to be getting short shrift. It has been my experience that the best IT talent doesn’t run towards disasters. Compounding the problem is the sorry state of IT pay in the government. Azmi acknowledges that the government and industry are competing for the same talent. Frankly it isn’t much of a competition. Of course you’re not expected to get rich working for Uncle Sam, but parity would be a nice goal. The fall out from such a situation is that the best go to work for contractors, who end up doing the real heavy lifting, and who have a vested interest in making Sential take a loooong time to come to fruition.
Sential could be a wild success, but based on all the indicators I’ve seen, I wouldn’t put money on it.