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Document management systems aid compliance

Nick Huber

Document management, document imaging and knowledge management systems will play a vital role in helping local and central government bodies comply with the Freedom of Information Act.

Public bodies have received some guidance on the IT implications of the Act from the Department for Constitutional Affairs.

It has published a general user requirements specification for IT systems to manage freedom of information and environmental information regulations enquiries.

But with the 2005 deadline for putting public services online getting closer, councils are having to juggle different compliance projects.

In Suffolk, the county, borough and district councils are working with local health and police organisations in a project to tackle the wide range of legislative requirements.

Adrian Lynch, project manager of the Suffolk Accessible Government Partnership (SAGP), said, "We had the common challenge of meeting the e-government agenda by 2005 and the introduction of the Freedom of Information Act."

The SAGP is working with IT consultancy Artemis Corporation and Atos Origin to deliver the OneSuffolk Portal - a central access point for all the information and services provided by all the partners involved in the SAGP.

At its core is Microsoft Content Management Server 2002, Windows 2003 Server, Office Sharepoint Portal Server 2003 and the Microsoft .net Framework. Content is fed from the partners' sites to the central portal site using Microsoft Biztalk 2004 Server.

Artemis has also developed "Requests Manager", a request handling system that provides total compliance with the Department for Constitutional Affairs' generic specification.

As a result, public authorities in Suffolk believe they will now find it easier to meet the national e-government targets and comply with the Freedom of Information Act by 2005.

Other councils are also working together. Bedfordshire Council, for instance, has formed a partnership with local authorities in the region to pull together data services.


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