National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Case Study | DevOps
About the Customer
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the second largest law enforcement organization in the United States, second only to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI maintains the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), an electronic database of criminal justice information used by virtually every criminal justice agency nationwide, including ICE.
ICE developed the Modernized Alien Criminal Response Information Management System (ACRIMe) to interface with the FBI NCIC service to provide real-time criminal history information is support of enforcement and removal operations. ACRIMe supports ICE’s handling of and response to immigration status inquiries made by other agencies regarding individuals arrested, subject to background checks, or otherwise encountered by those agencies.
ACRIMe is a mission critical, high performance, ultra-high security system involving sophisticated software development, middleware, infrastructure, and network technologies, and is categorized as a FISMA high information system.
ACRIMe is a collection of complex technologies distributed over disparate platforms, networks, and government agencies. Prior to DCI’s involvement, engineers routinely required tens of hours to manually deploy and configure the ACRIMe suite of applications to a single target environment.
Manual configuration management processes were inefficient, error prone, and not easily repeatable. Inconsistencies compounded through the code promotion and release processes, evolving into increasingly and uniquely defective set of test environments. As the overall entropy of the system increased, quality control and progress approached impossibility.
With over forty years of cumulative subject matter expertise in CJIS, DCI has a unique capability to solve law enforcement telecommunications, software development, and support.
DCI provided definitive subject matter expertise for each component in the ACRIMe technology stack as a subcontractor on multiple ACRIMe contracts. Our DevOps team automated the configuration, change, and release management processes throughout the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) enterprise, including ACRIMe. Our software developers created and maintained the linchpin of ACRIMe, the NCIC service interface. DCI middleware and infrastructure engineers created and maintained all of the infrastructure and middleware necessary to host ACRIMe, including National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (NLets) and message switch technologies.
The DCI DevOps team completely automated the ACRIMe software build, configuration, testing, deployment, and release processes. The automation began by reverse engineering each manual configuration item into an automated process capable of being committed to source control, along side the application code. Any change to the application software, middleware, or infrastructure source control triggered a fully automated build, test, and release process via continuous integration. Build-time test automation included application code static security scanning, unit testing with code coverage analysis, cyclomatic complexity determination, and many user-interface and code standards compliance tests. Post-deployment testing included dynamic application security vulnerability testing, performance testing, and automated functional testing.
DCI software developers also designed, created, and maintained the linchpin of the ACRIMe mission, the NCIC service. The NCIC service encapsulates the criminal history data interface between ICE and the FBI’s National Crime Information Center. ICE performs millions of law enforcement sensitive criminal history queries daily via the NCIC service developed entirely by our team. NCIC is one of the most mission critical, technically sophisticated, and rigorously secure information technology systems in the world. The NCIC service interface that we developed for ICE has reliably processed roughly a billion FBI queries in three years with only two software releases: the initial release; and a release to countermeasure a middleware upgrade defect.
DCI provided all engineering support services necessary to host the ACRIME applications for ICE. DCI subject matter expertise in ACRIMe software development, operations, and engineering enabled highly coordinated instrumentation, metrics, testing, and analytics detailing every aspect of the software development life cycle.
The coordinated automation delivered by the DCI team revolutionized the software development, build, assembly, deployment, configuration, performance, security, quality, and governance processes for ACRIMe. We replaced error-prone manual processes with automatic success that provided a detailed audit log of every change to each environment from inception to production.
The resultant system performs over ten million NCIC criminal history searches per month via ACRIME. The system has been stable in production for over three years with only two releases: the initial release; and a release to mitigate a middleware defect.