FBI has 23 divisions, and they are controlled by five executive assistant directors. Each division has its own IT department, and they are supervised by chief information officer. They have 40 – 50 database application, 12400 agents out of 56 field office and above 300 satellites.
They follow a sequence of approval from higher authority, and have numerous forms to fill up relating any issue.
Now the FBI is considering implementing Virtual Case File system, while removing their age old ACS system. With the help of Special agent Larry Depew, they are evaluating various threats and opportunity while making such decision.
They have given various context of implementation, problem related to ACS system, and change the FBI team badly required regarding their database system. We are to evaluate with their help.
1) Cost Plus / Award Fee:
The development contract are Cost Plus/ Award Fee contracts. This means that FBI will pay for only the cost of material and labour used to develop the VCF software, and they might pay extra money if the work is executed in cost effective way. But if the cost is increased while making the software, or if extra cost is incurred by the contractor, FBI has to pay total cost incurred.
The development contracts do not specify any formal project Schedule or milestone.
It is also visible that the contractors will keep on increasing the cost without any bar on it, and since the specific time is not mentioned of when to finish the project, date will only extend for the completion of software along with the increase of cost.
If Cost Plus / Award fee contract is carried on, then fees will keep on hiking.
2) No Enterprise Architecture:
One the most important threat is that there is not FBI Enterprise Architecture. To understand its importance, we have to first understand what it means. Enterprise Architecture is the blue print which states the enterprise functioning and building.
Many organizations depend on blueprint, which helps in guiding software developers of the need of the organization. It provides open and very responsive IT. The understanding of the current need of the organization and how to achieve it are made with the help of blue print. It also provides a road map about how any new change can be implemented and how to achieve your future for which such implementation is done.
If the blue print is not there then software developers will take time understanding the system.
3) Spiral Methodology:
FBI and the contractors are following Spiral Methodology, Spiral Methodology contains both bottom up and top-down concepts. It evaluate the first prototype and based on it designs the second prototype. Thereafter planning, designing, constructing and testing the second prototype.
Such models are comparatively a complex model, as it constantly fails to determine the ultimate composition of software. These models, they don’t have a deadline for completion of software development, it might fail to meet the budget.
If they follow this model, then with every change more and more codes will be delivered to verify.
4) Macro Managers:
Another possible threat to VCF software is the macro management of the agents, as per the given case it clearly mention that there is sequence to follow for reporting, Field agent of the squad - supervisor of the squad – assistant special agent – special agent in charge of field office. Agents have to gain confirmation from supervisor and from special agent in charge. It is an age old process, which they have been following for more than 50 years.
If such system still continues then agents will feel controlled and with no superior’s support.
5) Flash Cut-over:
FBI and the software developers were following flash cutover approach for the implementation of the software. In flash cutover, a software is implemented at one go, that is old software is removed and a new software is fully implemented, even if it is not working. It is like this that agents are logging off with the old system on Friday evening and log on to a fully new system on Monday morning and there is no going back from that.
It is quite a bold step to put such software without implementing it along with the old software, agents will get comfortable with the new software and how to operate it.
If Flash cut-over approach is followed, then agents will face problem in operating it.
1) No Paper Work:
One of the most important advantages of implementing Virtual Case file system is that it will completely remove all the paper work regarding the submission of different forms, example to conduct a wiretap, to wire an informant with a body recorder and transmitter etc. Such system will be removed and instead of that everything will be done electronically and agents will not have any problem while updating it, as they have while updating the ACS system for data.
If data are stored electronically then it will always be available.
2) Connecting Dots:
VCF system is a vast improvement over ACS system; it will accept scanned documents, photographs and other electronic media to simplify tracking. By filling the forms online, agents will not have to fax them to their superior, with just one click of online submission it will be directed to their superior, and on acceptance of the superiors the agent would be able to proceed further. This system will bring all the data at one place, to avoid duplication or non disclosure of data, and the agents can gain access from anywhere regarding any data.
If this system is installed, then it will help to connect the dots.
3) Removal of ACS:
Many of the agents have less to no faith in ACS system, while updating. If VCF is implemented, it will not only remove the ACS, it will also gain faith from agents due its better and improved feature. All this will help in organizing the FBI operation and will help in achieving its objective more easily and comfortably.
If ACS is removed, then the working would be easier.
In this case study, FBI is planning to implement Virtual Case File system for better functioning of FBI. Context of its implementation is given along with problems related to Automated Case Study system. From it we concluded that there are some threats and opportunity related to Virtual Case File system.
Some of the opportunities are:
While some of the threats are:
If these threats are removed and opportunities are more widely established, then the application of VCF would be a great success.
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