updated 3/16/2006 6:27:39 PM ET 2006-03-16T23:27:39

Lockheed Martin Corp. will build a new computer system for the FBI in an effort to put to rest the bureau's multimillion-dollar troubles with technology.

The Sentinel system, the replacement for a failed computerized case management project, is expected to cost $425 million and be finished in late 2009, the FBI's chief information officer said Thursday at a news conference.

Beginning next year, agents and analysts are supposed to have easy access to a growing number of the FBI’s investigative databases from one entry point, using a secure FBI Web site, Zalmai Azmi said. Fifty of the bureau’s 92 databases contain information pertinent to investigations; the others have administrative data, said Dean Hall, an FBI official overseeing the Sentinel project.

When complete, Sentinel is expected to replace the bureau's paper-based reporting system with an instantaneous and paperless way for agents and analysts to manage all types of investigations.

The FBI has spent nearly $600 million to put in place a high-speed, secure computer network and 30,000 new desktop computers. The Trilogy technology upgrade was begun even before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, highlighted computer problems at the FBI.

Justice Department inspector general Glenn A. Fine said this week the new project could suffer the same cost overruns that plagued earlier upgrades unless the FBI puts in place stronger controls.

Lockheed Martin's contract is worth $305 million over six years, which includes two years of maintaining the new system, Azmi said. The FBI will spend an additional $120 million evaluating the work, he said.

The FBI chose Lockheed Martin over rival defense contractor Grumman Corp., the only other bidder.

Two companies, CACI and Computer Sciences Corp., that are part of the Lockheed Martin team also worked on the earlier computer projects, Azmi said.

Bureau officials and Lockheed Martin executives predicted the new system would be completed on time and within budget. "With all the controls we have put in place, we're very confident," Azmi said.

Lockheed Martin has worked on several FBI projects over the past 15 years, including the bureau's main fingerprinting program, said Linda Gooden, president of Lockheed Martin Information Technology.

It unsuccessfully bid for a portion of the Trilogy project, Gooden said.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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