Communications of the IIMA


The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) began developing a case management software system called the Virtual Case File in 2000, but eventually abandoned the project in April 2005. The cost of this project was estimated to be over $170 million, and this waste of tax payer money drew sharp criticism. The impetus for the project was due to the FBI’s aging technology infrastructure that included 386-based personal computers and a 12-year-old network system. In 2000, Congress allocated almost $340 million for the proposed FBI Information Technology Upgrade Project (FITUP) that was soon divided into three parts and renamed Trilogy. This project was scheduled to take three years and included an enterprise-wide upgrade of desktop hardware and software and the implementation of a more modern and secure network. In addition, a Virtual Case File system would include a case management system, an evidence management system, and a records management system that would replace the FBI’s antiquated case management system which limited the FBI’s ability to carry out its mission effectively. This study provides a qualitative analysis of this IT project failure. More specifically, this study attempts to answer the questions: Was the failure of the FBI’s Virtual Case File project unique? Or does it share common characteristics with other IT project failures? This case study should be of interest to IT academics in terms of teaching project management or as a theoretical basis for guiding future research. This study should also be of interest to IT practitioners in terms of understanding some important project management challenges when attempting to implement an IT solution