Dept. Homeland Security – Railhead

Following entry is a record in the “Catalogue of Catastrophe” – a list of failed and troubled projects from around the world.

Dept. Homeland Security
Project name : Railhead
Date : Aug 2008 Cost :$500M

Synopsis :
Efforts to upgrade existing anti-terror tracking systems run into serious architectural and quality flaws. System fails to perform basic Boolean functions (AND, OR, etc) and reports of serious performance concerns surface. Team of 862 contractors reduced to skeleton crew while project status is evaluated. Rep. Brad Miller (D., N.C.), chairman of the subcommittee conducting an investigation is quoted as saying “The end result is a … new system that, if actually deployed, will leave our country more vulnerable than the existing yet flawed system in operation today”

Contributing factors as reported in the press :
System performance and architectural concerns regarding use of XML over a relational database design, failure to meet security requirements, radical reduction in functionality versus systems it replaces (reasons for functional shortfalls not stated), failure by the government to staff key oversight roles, quality flaws, agency turf battles, plus some interesting allegations (see first link below)!

Reference links :

  1. US terror threat system ‘crippled’ by technical flaws
  2. Railhead problems come to a head