FBI taps former Lehman Brothers IT exec to be its CIO

Agency gives tech reins to Chad Fulgham, who had headed defunct investment firm's IT division

Chad Fulgham, a former technology executive at the now-defunct Lehman Brothers investment firm, has been hired by the FBI to fill its CIO position.

In an announcement on Monday, the agency described Fulgham as having extensive information security experience -- one of several IT priorities that FBI Director Robert Mueller cited in a statement, along with giving end users the ability to quickly retrieve and share data and collaborate remotely. Mueller added that Fulgham's experience at multinational corporations is a good fit for the agency's IT needs.

Fulgham graduated from the US Naval Academy and spent five years working in IT jobs for the Navy. He then handled IT security and risk management functions at IBM, JPMorgan Chase and Arthur Andersen prior to becoming a senior vice president and head of the IT division at Lehman Brothers Holdings four years ago. Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy protection in September and began selling off its assets, making it one of the highest-profile casualties of the economic downturn and Wall Street's collapse.

At the FBI, Fulgham will take the IT reins from Zalmai Azmi, who resigned in September and left the agency on October 17 after serving as its CIO since 2004.

The new CIO will take charge of an IT organization that is in the midst of a significant overhaul of its technology infrastructure and processes, triggered largely by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Over the past few years, the agency has been equipping its agents with new technologies and more sophisticated tools for use in tracking down terrorists and other criminals.

For instance, the FBI said in its announcement of Azmi's resignation that the agency has distributed more than 20,000 BlackBerry devices to field agents as part of an effort to provide them with mobile access to criminal rap sheets and vehicle records. It also re-engineered, streamlined or automated more than 200 internal work processes under Azmi's watch.

In addition, the FBI has tied together much of its old case data into a single database called the Investigative Data Warehouse. And new tools have been implemented to give agents centralized access to information across dozens of previously compartmentalized databases and networks, such as the Department of Defense's classified Secret IP Router Network.

Altogether, Fulgham will inhert about 54 ongoing IT projects, according to the FBI. One of the biggest is the agency's Sentinel system, which is designed to provide Web-based access to case management data. The first portion of the four-phase project was completed in June 2007, and the FBI said in September that Sentinel -- which will cost an estimated US$423 million -- is on schedule for a full rollout by mid-2010.

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