FAA document management system helps users stay on track

Federal Aviation Administration users turn to their Web browsers and an intranet to
file and index regulatory documents and track their revision status.

FAA’s Integrated Rulemaking Management System, based on the Docs Open document
management system from PC Docs Inc. of Burlington, Mass., has 700 users. They can track
items by docket number, federal regulation section number or other parameters, said Joseph
Hawkins, director of FAA’s Office of Rulemaking.

IRMS uses a Microsoft Access 97 front end that is year 2000-ready, Hawkins said, and it
also uses CyberDocs, a Web-based PC Docs application. Docs Open can store up to 99
versions of each document and 25 sub-versions.

“We know what was done to each document” by specific users, Hawkins said. The
system helps FAA officials evaluate rulemakers’ efficiency. It also reduces travel
expenses between FAA sites.

IRMS stores its data in the Microsoft SQL Server 6.5 database manager running under
Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 on two dual-processor Pentium Pro servers—a Compaq
Computer Corp. ProLiant and a Dell Computer Corp. PowerEdge 6100.

The rulemakers work at Dell OptiPlex GX1 PCs with 96M of RAM and Microsoft Windows NT
Workstation 4.0, Hawkins said. They access IRMS with their Microsoft Internet Explorer or
Netscape Communications Corp. browsers.

A firewall excludes from the intranet all users not listed in an FAA database, Hawkins
said. Docs Open also has security features that let system administrators limit user
rights within IRMS.

Network Designs Inc. of Vienna, Va., provided integration and support services. Hawkins
said he could not comment on IRMS’ cost. “The concept is ours, we’re one of
the first agencies to do this,” he said.

Other FAA offices are considering a generic version of IRMS for document management.

Meanwhile, an IRMS project scheduling system is under development and should be
complete by March, Hawkins said. Another project aims to strengthen the system’s
workflow features. 

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