Labor cuts work with enhanced document tracking system
Labor cuts work with enhanced document tracking system<@VM>Stats at a Glance
Simple tracking tool grows to perform storage and retrieval functions through a browser interface
By Shruti Dat'
The Secretary's Information Management System III has grown from a document tracking tool to a suite of applications for Labor's work force.
The 3-year-old Secretary's Information Management System at the Labor Department has matured from a simple document tracking tool to a suite of automated routing, tracking, imaging, storage and retrieval applications within the department.
SIMS was initially developed to let the Office of the Executive Secretariat track official correspondence and log document status.
Now in its third version, the system hosts and shares interfaces with multiple applications within the department.
Labor's Office of System Development has supported customized client-server versions of SIMS in several of the department's agencies since March.
The Civil Rights Center, Office of Safety and Health Administration, Employment Standards Administration, and Office of Mine Safety and Health use SIMS III. The Employment Training Administration, Office of the Solicitor, Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, and Office of the Chief Information Officer will gain access this month. Labor will fully deploy SIMS III to about 700 users by April.To the browser
The increased volume and effort required to track correspondence, the cost of archiving hard-copy correspondence, and the mobility of Labor's staff prompted the growth of SIMS and the move to a browser-based application, OSD director Lissa Scott said.
SIMS has also helped Labor meet Paperwork Reduction Act mandates, she said.
The Executive Secretariat's Office asked OSD to add applications to SIMS, without the restrictions of the workstation and LAN.
The shift from a client-server to a browser-based application was coupled with a new architectural approach.
Labor used Microsoft Distributed interNet Applications, a three-tiered architecture based on the Component Object Model, as its development environment.
The Component Object Model 'allows Labor to build standardized parts and lets developers create portions of their applications using reusable components,' Scott said.
Distributed interNet Applications 'uses partitions, or tiers, to increase scalability to make applications more manageable and easier to update,' Scott said. The three tiers are user interface or browser, business process or logic, and data storage.
'This approach speeds up the development process by allowing several team members to work on separate parts in the same application at the same time,' Scott said.
System developers used C, C++ and Java to write the Component Object Model components for SIMS.
They developed and integrated document imaging processes and integrated components from Microsoft Exchange Main, and used Microsoft SQL Server 7.0 to create a document repository.
Labor systems programmers developed the SIMS III intranet site, which resides on a server running Microsoft Windows NT 4.0, with Visual Basic and Hypertext Markup Language.
The SIMS III applications are accessible with a user name and password from any desktop PC with a network and dial-up connection, integrating with any Simple Mail Transfer Protocol-compliant e-mail address.Down to business
Providing a stable base of common services, using Distributed interNet Applications (DNA) and Component Object Model relieves OSD from having to create a separate infrastructure for each application and 'allows us to focus instead on delivering business solutions,' Scott said.
The open standards-based DNA environment fosters interoperability among browsers, databases, operating systems and development languages, she said.
For example, SIMS III shares an interface with PeopleSoft HRMS from PeopleSoft Inc. of Pleasanton, Calif., which Labor is moving to for payroll and personnel applications, she said.