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$2,000,000 Savings Realized due to Access Sciences’ Diligence

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development had a problem...Hurricane Katrina clean up-related expense records could not be located.  Without these records, the agency was faced with reimbursing FEMA $2,000,000 unnecessarily. 

Missing Records Put State Funds at Risk

Hurricane Katrina was the costliest natural disaster in the history of the United States. At least 1,245 people died in the hurricane and subsequent floods, making it the deadliest United States hurricane since 1928. Total property damage was estimated at $108 billion including widespread devastation across much of coastal Louisiana and Mississippi.  80% of New Orleans and neighboring parishes were flooded.

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) is responsible for maintaining public transportation, roadways, bridges, canals, select levees, floodplains, port facilities, commercial vehicles, and airports, in the State of Louisiana. The agency has approximately 5,000 personnel on staff. DOTD operations are run through nine district offices across the state.

DOTD was instrumental in the State of Louisiana’s preparation for and response to Hurricane Katrina.  Prior to the hurricane, DOTD created the state’s emergency evacuation plan including development of Emergency Evacuation Routes that were used to successfully evacuate 1.4 million people from south Louisiana.

In Katrina’s aftermath, the State of Louisiana, and especially DOTD faced enormous challenges responding to the overwhelming needs of its people and supporting infrastructure.

During this tumultuous period, DOTD incurred substantial cleanup costs with a commitment from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for reimbursement of documented expenses.  Debris cleanup costs alone totaled more than $150M statewide (a volume 25 times that of the World Trade Center).

Without a centralized records management program or repository, DOTD was forced to track down, through phone calls and emails to individual groups and district offices, documents required by FEMA to justify cleanup-related expenditures. In the turmoil that followed the hurricane, many of these records had been boxed and stored in obscure locations within local district and parish offices, particularly in New Orleans. At the time of Katrina, DOTD records search efforts were conducted on a "who you know" basis, with a corresponding challenge of finding the person who not only knew where the records were being stored, but that the records existed at all.

Access Sciences Team Finds Missing Records

As part of a records inventory project at a local district office, the Access Sciences’ Managed Services staff embedded within DOTD discovered and documented records associated with the Hurricane Katrina cleanup efforts. During an unrelated information sharing meeting with DOTD’s Emergency Response Section, they discussed efforts to locate the Hurricane Katrina cleanup expense records. Because of their work on the records inventory, the Access Sciences team was able to describe where to locate these critical records. By producing the records, DOTD was able to satisfy FEMA’s records requirements and avoid reimbursing FEMA $2,000,000. 

Our Ongoing Work at DOTD

Since 2010, we have supported DOTD in its mission to deliver transportation and public works systems that enhance quality of life and facilitate economic growth.  Our services to DOTD include an embedded team of information management professionals who:

  • Revised DOTD’s retention schedule from one with over 900 record series to one with less than 100 record series. 
  • Developed a taxonomy to manage all of DOTD’s records, regardless of format.
  • Completed a records inventory of physical files at DOTD’s headquarters, district offices, and offsite warehouses, exceeding 50,000 linear feet.
  • Developed an inventory control system that allows users to track the location, retention, check-in/out, transfer of ownership, etc. of agency managed records and instituted a system of barcoding items to manage the collection.
  • Developed a comprehensive plan for centralizing agency-wide scanning operations including: space, staffing, equipment, hardware and software considerations; pilot testing and planned roll out; and training for users.
  • Developed a RIM Coordinator Network and provided training to coordinators. 
  • Developed and implemented a communications plan to guide change management activities involving new RIM policies and procedures and the updated retention schedule
  • Provide ongoing operational support for records warehouse processes including managing new item intake, check-in/out, determining boxes available for disposal, facilitating disposal through contracted vendor, etc.
  • Provide ongoing operational support for inventory management for 60,000 reels of microfilm including intake of new reels, check-in/out, research for requests for records, and reel retention.
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