Help for federal help desks

Federal help-desk workers and representatives from companies that work with the government met Wednesday to jump-start a new organization designed to bring the technical support community closer together.

The organization, the Federal Help Desk Special Interest Group, will be a part of the Help Desk Institute, a 9,000-member support services organization based in Colorado, with chapters in cities worldwide.

HDI's chapters — including its Washington, D.C.-area chapter — are composed of help-desk workers in industry. The Federal Help Desk SIG will be the only group devoted to government help-desk workers.

The group will provide a forum for the federal help-desk community to share business practices and case studies, said Eric Rabinowitz, president of IHS Help Desk Service, a help-desk training and solutions provider that worked with HDI to organize the group.

"These folks want to be able to talk with other people in the same situations," he said. Rabinowitz said there's a limit to how well private and public help-desk workers can relate because of the government's unique budgeting and staffing procedures, for example.

The federal government is a major player in the support services arena, said Daryl Covey, hotline manager for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Next Generation Weather Radar (Nexrad) Radar Operations Center. Covey was a guest speaker at the group's first meeting.

He invited new members to supply information to the Federal Help Desk Registry, which he launched to profile help-desk operations throughout the federal government. He said he's collected about 150 profiles so far and aims to reach 200 by spring. Members can also register to attend a federal help desk conference Covey organized; it will be held at the Kennedy Space Center March 29.

Another meeting of the Federal Help Desk SIG is scheduled for April. Group officers will be elected and responsibility for running the group will be handed over to members.

Those interested in joining the group or finding out more information can write to Dalila Brosen of IHS Help Desk Services at dalila.brosen@ihshelpdesk.com.

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