DECEMBER 28, 2006
The federal agency that has spent millions of taxpayer dollars to modernize its archaic paper-based data system has lost nearly one fourth of its files relating to important classified information leaks.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation claims to protect and defend the United States against terrorist and foreign intelligence threats but the agency can’t seem to keep track of important data year after year.
The latest mishap concerns crucial files on recent investigations of classified information leaks. Forced to admit the negligence in response to a newspaper’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, the bureau has admitted that 22 of 94 files “are missing” and cannot be located.
As in the case with many U.S. Government agencies, the FBI initially refused to provide the information under FOIA but was ordered by a federal judge to do so. The agency was forced to release details on the frequency and outcome of classified information leak probes and admitted losing a great deal of the information.
The FBI’s serious data problem will not be resolved anytime soon since the agency scrapped a costly program that was supposed to automate its antiquated method of gathering and storing information after dishing out more than $100 million.
The highly-touted project was called Virtual Case File and it was supposed to allow agents and intelligence analysts to share vital investigation information. Lawmakers finally nixed the failed program after dishing out $105 million for unusable codes and the FBI’s Inspector General, Glenn Fine, blasted bureau officials for severe mismanagement.
In testimony before a Senate Committee, Fine said the doomed program lacked firm milestones and proper FBI oversight. He went on to say that the bureau’s current system prevents it from efficiently investigating criminal cases and analyzing intelligence information that could help prevent future terrorist attacks.
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