Friday, August 18, 2006

FBI and Computers

I blogged on this back when the FBI project was scrapped. (See here , here, and here--matter of fact, it may be my favorite subject.) Today the Post reviews the fiasco here--The FBI's Upgrade That Wasn't placing some of the blame on the contractor who failed to hold the FBI's feet to the fire. But I liked this quote:
"The setup was so cumbersome that many agents stopped using it, preferring to rely on paper and secretaries. Technologically, the FBI was trapped in the 1980s, if not earlier.

'Getting information into or out of the system is a challenge,' said Greg Gandolfo, who spent most of his 18-year FBI career investigating financial crimes and public corruption cases in Chicago, Little Rock and Los Angeles. 'It's not like 'Here it is, click' and it's in there. It takes a whole series of steps and screens to go through.'

Gandolfo, who now heads a unit at FBI headquarters that fields computer complaints, said the biggest drawback is the amount of time it takes to handle paperwork and input data. 'From the case agent's point of view, you want to be freed up to do the casework, to do the investigations, to do the intelligence,' he said."

It's the old problem. People will bypass your system unless it accomplishes something useful for them. That means you either have to design it well, or have a system that has the users by the short and curlies (i.e., if you don't use the system, you can't get paid).

No comments: