Federal Bureau of Investigation:
Weak Controls over Trilogy Project Led to Payment of Questionable Contractor Costs and Missing Assets
GAO-06-698T: Published: May 2, 2006. Publicly Released: May 2, 2006.
The Trilogy project--initiated in 2001--is the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) largest information technology (IT) upgrade to date. While ultimately successful in providing updated IT infrastructure and systems, Trilogy was not a success with regard to upgrading FBI's investigative applications. Further, the project was plagued with missed milestones and escalating costs, which eventually totaled nearly $537 million. This testimony focuses on (1) the internal controls over payments to contractors, (2) payments of questionable contractor costs, and (3) FBI's accountability for assets purchased with Trilogy project funds.
FBI's review and approval process for Trilogy contractor invoices, which included a review role for GSA as contracting agency, did not provide an adequate basis for verifying that goods and services billed were actually received and that the amounts billed were appropriate, leaving FBI highly vulnerable to payments of unallowable costs. This vulnerability is demonstrated by FBI's payment of about $10.1 million in questionable contractor costs we identified using data mining, document analysis, and other forensic auditing techniques. These costs included first-class travel and other excessive airfare costs, incorrect charges for overtime hours, potentially overcharged labor rates, and charges for which the contractors could not provide adequate supporting documentation to substantiate the costs purportedly incurred. FBI also failed to establish controls to maintain accountability over equipment purchased for the Trilogy project. These control lapses resulted in more than 1,200 missing pieces of equipment valued at approximately $7.6 million that GAO identified as part of its review. Given the poor control environment and the fact that GAO reviewed only selected FBI payments to Trilogy contractors, other questionable contractor costs may have been paid that have not been identified. If these control weaknesses go uncorrected, future contracts, including those related to Sentinel--FBI's new electronic information management system initiative--will be greatly exposed to improper payments. In addition, the lack of accountability for Trilogy equipment calls into question FBI's ability to adequately safeguard its existing assets as well as those it may acquire in the future.