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How Do You Say “Boondoggle” in Hindi

Depending on whether you have ever been involved in one of these disasters, you are ready to laugh or to cry as the FBI eyes $1 billion surveillance deal:

CLARKSBURG, West Virginia (CNN) — The FBI is gearing up to create a massive computer database of people’s physical characteristics, all part of an effort the bureau says to better identify criminals and terrorists.

But it’s an issue that raises major privacy concerns — what one civil liberties expert says should concern all Americans.

The bureau is expected to announce in coming days the awarding of a $1 billion, 10-year contract to help create the database that will compile an array of biometric information — from palm prints to eye scans.

Kimberly Del Greco, the FBI’s Biometric Services section chief, said adding to the database is “important to protect the borders to keep the terrorists out, protect our citizens, our neighbors, our children so they can have good jobs, and have a safe country to live in.”

But it’s unnerving to privacy experts.

“It’s the beginning of the surveillance society where you can be tracked anywhere, any time and all your movements, and eventually all your activities will be tracked and noted and correlated,” said Barry Steinhardt, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Technology and Liberty Project.

Here’s the formula: FBI + Computer = Expensive Disaster

This program will be well over cost by the third year and cancelled with nothing to show for it. They have not managed to implement e-mail at the FBI, so the possibility of their completing a project this large is zero. It should be stopped to avoid wasting the $3 to $5 billion that will be spent with nothing to show for it. This is just another backdoor effort to fund total information awareness.

They keep gathering blocks of data hoping for magic to happen, that somehow answers will begin erupting from this oversized heap of garbage. They don’t want to admit that they are going to have to do some work.

They don’t have the professional staff to write the request for proposals, much less a contract, so they will hire a contractor who will write something that makes a particular bidder happy, and the resulting mess won’t do anything useful. That is the history of the FBI and computerization, only this time much of the actual work will be out-sourced.

[cross-posted at the American Street]

6 comments

1 fallenmonk { 02.04.08 at 3:52 pm }

Some contractor is going to make a lot of money and it will be for naught as you say. I don’t want to mention that the resulting “half-product” will also be illegal by the time they try and start loading it.

2 Bryan { 02.04.08 at 3:58 pm }

The FBI has been the source of some of the worst IT projects ever conceived. They should should try to set up a secure WAN, before anything else. At least implement word processing.

3 andante { 02.04.08 at 11:24 pm }

Does the FBI even HAVE computers capable of word processing yet? Last I heard, they were woefully out of date and maybe using something involving spark plugs or possibly the Univac.

4 Bryan { 02.04.08 at 11:38 pm }

The majority of the offices with computers, and not all have them, were still using DOS, that’s how bad it is. They need to at least get current hardware out there so people can learn how to use it, even if it isn’t networked. They are just pathetic.

My small department was already producing reports on Apple IIs in the late 1970s because it saved a lot of time, given the “boilerplate” nature of most legal documents.

CSI is science fiction, not a police show.

5 andante { 02.05.08 at 7:35 am }

“still using DOS”

Hey, I’m an old DOS appreciator. But then, I’m not a hot-shot, super-anti-Islamofascist terra fighter like our Homeland Security heroes.

My last buddy working at the FBI took early retirement last year, mainly out of disgust with the outmoded systems and demands from Above.

He wasn’t alone, that’s for certain. After having dozens of old classmates & friends working under the current “Homeland Security” umbrella in various departments, I now know exactly ONE still toiling on. And he’s counting the days until he can take his pension and run.

6 Bryan { 02.05.08 at 8:33 am }

There’s nothing wrong with DOS for a stand-alone system, but when you get things in from other people you can’t read the disks or the files.

The good people are all leaving for the real world, and we are left with the dross.