FEMA gets handle on mail

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has tapped Integic Corp. to help it manage and respond to the deluge of paper documents it receives from disaster victims, members of Congress and others.

Under a contract signed in late June, Integic will provide 1,200 seats of its e.Power content and process management product combined with Hummingbird Ltd.'s CyberDOCS document management tool. That will produce a Web-based resource that FEMA employees agencywide can use to access disaster-related correspondence. FEMA is calling the solution the Correspondence Action Tracking System (CATS).

"This gives them a way to extend their enterprise and collaborate on providing a quick and accurate response to requests," said Jim Fraley, civilian-sector operations manager for Integic. "What we provide them is a way to automate the process, to provide document management and records management all in one package."

FEMA regularly receives correspondence from victims of hurricanes, floods and other disasters inquiring about claims status and other matters, as well as letters from members of Congress working on behalf of them. With letters flowing in from many sources—and sent to multiple offices—the agency has trouble responding promptly and without duplicating efforts, Fraley said.

When finished, CATS will enable authorized FEMA employees throughout its Washington, D.C., headquarters and 10 regions to access a repository of letters and make revisions. Multiple people will be able to view a folder or file simultaneously, and when a request has been satisfied, folders and documents will be classified and then taken off the system for archiving, Fraley said.

The system eventually will be incorporated into FEMA's National Emergency Management Information System, an agencywide system of hardware, software and telecommunications that supports emergency coordination, support and mitigation, and other functions, Fraley said.

CATS also will rely on digital signature technology from E-Lock Technologies Inc. and Kofax Image Products' Ascent Capture scanning system. The contract is worth about $1.5 million, Fraley said.

The Logistics Management Institute managed the contract's needs analysis and competition. LMI research fellow John Cartland said CATS should be up and running, with FEMA employees trained to use it, by about Feb. 15, 2002.

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