A marketing opportunity for Microsoft

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You might think that MS Office and computerized record keeping has penetrated all parts of government – but apparently there’s one hold-out – FEMA.

The now infamous US government agency, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency ) has apparently not joined the computer revolution of the last 20 years.

The Advocate newspaper made a Freedom of Information request about post Hurricane Katrina contracts. FEMA said the paper would have to pay $209,099 in photocopying fees @ 10 cents a page.

You read that right – photocopying fees. Photocopiers were those paper duplication devices that infested offices before scanners and printers came along .   Based on that it would seem that over 2 million documents are stored in paper only format by a major government agency.

A marketing opportunity for Microsoft and their partners if ever I heard one …

Of course this is silly – FEMA is quite computerized. The agency has responded to other FoI requests with CD’s full of documents without any demands for fees.

Presumably there’s some other reason for the delay and high fees sought – computers (or lack of them) is still a standard excuse when an organization wants to avoid something embarrassing.

And if you get the CD’s of data sorting through thousands of documents isn’t easy. You can copy the files to your hard drive and index them for faster searches. A desktop search program like Google Desktop, Copernic Desktop Search or Windows Search will do the job. The Google or Copernic offerings are a better choice because those programs have an ‘index now’ option to quickly index your documents. Windows Search makes you wait a long time even if you use a Windows Search speed up trick.

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