DOD uses Metastorm's process management application to clear backlog

DOD uses Metastorm's process management application to clear backlog

By Caron Golden

Special to GCN

When the Defense Department found itself in need of an Electronic Freedom of Information Act application, Lt. Col. Jim Deming, chief of DOD's Program Management Division, started attending technology fairs and chatting up vendors.

At one fair he met David Holliday, then chief executive officer of Software Systems Group Inc.

'I talked to him for an hour and a half and then invited him to do a demo for us. We had them back two or three times before we actually purchased their system,' Deming said. 'I felt most comfortable with them and it was based on their product support, particularly after market, because this is a product that's going to run the business.'

SSGI has since been acquired by Metastorm and Holliday is now North American director of professional services at the new company. Their product, Electronic Process Management software for Freedom of Information Act, or E(PM)-FOIA2000, has yet to be integrated at DOD. But Deming is optimistic he's made the right decision, in part because of the company's research into what was required by law and what agencies said their needs are, and because of its responsiveness to his interest in their product.

The product itself is a 32-bit application that runs under Microsoft Windows.

Among its components are document imaging, redaction and annotation, a configurable FOIA request folder, one-click routing, enhanced fee estimation and support for extensions and appeals.

Set for summer

This summer, the company is launching InterACT FOIA, a module that works with the product to allow users to interact with the agency via the Web and submit requests online.

Key information is stored in a database so people making a FOIA request only have to enter name and address information once.

They can check the status of their disclosure requests at any time.

The system's primary focus has been on easing the back-end processing.

'Basically, what agencies need is a system to help process the backlog,' Holliday said.

'They need to get off grease pencils and copiers and automate their systems.'

He said the big concern of FOIA officers'the end-of-year report'is a click-of-the-button activity with E(PM)-FOIA2000.

He also said the application's search and redact feature and accompanying word and phrase list is 'important because we can take a document and scan it in, then use a positional optical character reader. You can do a search and replace, and know where on the document that redacted text is.'

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