Congress is offered software to help stay in touch with constituents

When the 109th Congress convenes next year, an application will be available to help representatives track and manage contacts with constituents.

Centurum Inc. of Arlington, Va., announced that its Constituent Interaction Management Suite would be available in January. An early version of CIMSuite is being piloted in the office of Rep. Charles Pickering Jr. (R-Miss.).

The company already is providing work management support in 46 House committee and member offices, said Centurum operations director Brandon Smith.

'They had pretty much asked us to build it,' Smith said. 'We worked with the offices to build the product based on how they do business.'

Traditional customer relationship management tools are designed to track a contact through a limited number of steps, from point A to point C, Smith said. Constituent contacts are more interactive and open-ended. 'It's a continuously revolving door,' he said.

The primary application module manages incoming messages, received via postal mail, e-mail, telephone or fax. Messages can be automatically responded to and logged with codes to identify a constituent's concerns or demographic information. The reporting module enables database searches and custom reporting through Microsoft Active Database Object. Taskflow and scheduling modules handle assignment and tracking of tasks resulting from constituent contacts and office scheduling.

CIMSuite is built on a Microsoft SQL database with modules that reside on a central server for each congressional office. Staff in district offices will access the application on the server in Washington.

'It is a client-server package at this time,' Smith said. 'We are going to provide a Web version eventually.' The client-server version was developed first to make the product immediately available.

'This product was more or less developed for the House of Representatives,' where Centurum has a customer base and saw a need, Smith said.

But the company hopes to expand its market beyond the 435 congressional offices, offering it to the Senate as well. 'We will tweak the product' for the Senate, Smith said. The needs of senators are similar to those of representatives, but the there are differences between the two houses' procedures for IT acquisition and support.

Centurum also wants to market the tool at the United Nations.

No price for the product has been released.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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