FAA app speeds disclosure filing

Federal Aviation Administration officials issued a presolicitation notice this week for a commercial partner to help maintain the agency's proprietary electronic filing system for confidential financial disclosure forms.

FAA personnel developed a software program that walks users through the process of filling out and electronically filing the forms, which are required for thousands of FAA employees and hundreds of thousands of government employees throughout the executive branch. Once completed, the form is automatically uploaded to a central, secure location.

The program automatically sends a message with due dates, tracks who has filed and who has not, sends reminders, sends thank-you notes and confirmations, and notifies division managers when employees fail to file. The program will be enhanced to automatically recognize prohibited stocks and generate a memo requiring divestiture of prohibited stocks.

The Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980 allows federal laboratories to work with partners on the filing software, said Deborah Germak, technology transfer program manager at the FAA.

"We're looking for a sophisticated software company that will take it, enhance it, maintain it and collaborate with us," Germak said. "We're trying to find a company that will work us. It's not an acquisition. They might be able to market the software to other government agencies."

She added that the transfer program allows the FAA to use its resources in the commercial market.

Loretta Alkalay, regional counsel for the FAA's Eastern Region, is responsible for reviewing disclosure forms. Four years ago, she decided government officials needed a better way to deal with the mountain of two-page forms, especially those that were not filled out correctly. Now, the form has hard edits in it, so information cannot be omitted.

"I'm responsible for all the legal work that the FAA does," Alkalay said. "This is a very small piece of what I do. The amount of time it takes to fill out these forms is completely disproportionate" to the safety paperwork that the FAA has to clear.

Alkalay's goal is to make this a push-button operation. The filing process used to take six months because forms were incomplete," she said. "Now, 99 percent of filings can be fully processed in a day."

"It's really taking minutes to do what took days and months," she said. "Our form actually walks you through the steps.... On every screen, it has explanatory information and questions and answers. It's user friendly. It saves the information year after year. There's nothing else like this in the government for these disclosure statements."

Alkalay said she believes that expanding the program within the FAA could save the agency paperwork and millions of dollars.

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