The FBI first sought to embrace technology in the 1980s during the onset of computer availability and hoped to have a paperless office where agents could quickly pull up case files, information, and photographs at the comfort of their desks without having to sift and sort through numerous paper files. The infrastructure in that time was limited to text based search engines and there were no provisions for photo storage or the ability to scan written reports. As a result, the FBI found its agents decided not to rely on the existing technology and were reverting back to paper. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, the FBI was placed under scrutiny for being ineffective and inefficient in its operations due to the time it would take to share information with other law enforcement agencies, locate reports, and transmit them from one location to another (usually done via fax or by mailed CDs). To combat this, the FBI developed a plan known as Trilogy, which aimed for three primary goals: A new computer network, personal computers for most agents, and an online criminal database that would be titled Virtual Case File (VCF). An external contractor by the name of Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) was contracted in June 2001 to begin the project with an estimated schedule of three years for completion and a first year budget of $14 million. The project continued until early 2005 (7 months over schedule), at which time the project scope had expanded by 80% with costs of $170 million and was riddled with issues. Ultimately, in early 2005, the project was cancelled but not after escalation and persistence on the part of the FBI.
The Problems and Failure of VCF
The FBI wanted SAIC to create the database from scratch instead of using off-the shelf Oracle programs that could have been customized. A study by the National Research Council (NRC) after the planned 3-year period in late 2004 was conducted to gauge the success of the program, and...