The Pattern Recognition and Information Correlation System (PATRIC) was an online support system using a criminal database which promised to fulfill an urgent function for the community of Southern California. Yet PATRIC was phased out at the Los Angeles Police Department without ever having become fully operative. The experience raises questions about the ability of bureaucratic service organizations to implement and manage unconventional technology and large scale projects. The evidence suggests that human and organizational factors, on which a support system's success or fai lure ultimately depends, were overlooked. The paper relates the system failure to the organizational environment, and suggests that consideration of the social factors be integrated into the process of planning for information systems.