NYC system performs heroics

A New York City document-imaging information system that processes claims and contracts has saved the government nearly $40 million during the past seven years, reduced the time for settling claims, and proved helpful following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

In 1994, OAISIS, or the Omnibus Automated Image Storage and Information System, was installed in the Office of the Comptroller ( to automate the paper-based process of handling claims against the city.

The system was needed because it took so long to process the 25,000 to 30,000 annual claims — for example, property damage or personal injury caused by a city vehicle — and to register contracts, said Rod Lustan, program manager for Chantilly, Va.-based Integic Corp., which developed, designed and maintains the system.

As a result, the average settlement time has been cut from more than a year to about three months, he said, adding that it also has reduced the amount of paper used, improved customer service and elevated employee morale.

"As far as cost savings go, in claims settlements, the faster you can settle a claim, the cheaper it becomes," Lustan said.

Since being upgraded with Integic's e.Power business logic software, the system also automatically routes work so that claims are directed more efficiently to the appropriate person and so all necessary documents, including photographs, can be accessed electronically at a worker's desktop. Lustan said supervisors can even see where bottlenecks are occurring and reassign work to other employees online.

Because the system can also track data, the comptroller's office has created a fraud unit to investigate questionable claims.

When the attacks occurred, Lustan said the comptroller's office building, which is two blocks from "ground zero," was evacuated, but the servers remained functional. Although the main and backup servers are located in the building, data is backed up nightly and also kept off-site. He said the city and Integic are accelerating development of a disaster recovery site in case of a catastrophe.

Two days after the attacks, he said the comptroller's office was able to use the system to expedite emergency contracts needed for recovery efforts and debris removal. He said it helped the office register the contracts and make funds available quickly and efficiently.

Other city agencies are using OAISIS to process claims and for other functions, Lustan said. For example, the Board of Education is using it as a risk-management tool to capture data about possible hazards in schools and perform safety evaluations. The Department of Aging, he said, plans to use it to track and process senior citizens' applications for rent control. Lustan said the system initially cost $7 million to install, which included a multiyear maintenance contract.


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