As all scientists know, sometimes things don't develop as they
are expected to. For more than a year, an NIH staff member has
been leading a project that demonstrates that unpredictability.
SERCH (System for Enterprise Records and Correspondence Handling)
has grown from a plan for replacing a combination of systems that
the executive secretariat currently uses to track controlled correspondence
of the NIH director and deputy director into a project of much
broader — and still growing — dimensions.
It happened that while exec sec was beginning plans for its new
system, the Office of the Secretary was also looking to replace
its system for distributing and tracking the correspondence of
the Secretary of HHS. It took only a couple of phone conversations
to broaden the project that would become SERCH to make it serve
as the new correspondence and records management system for OS
as well as NIH. And from that point, the project took off, involving
other HHS agencies and being eyed for a wide variety of potential
|SERCH will become the system exec sec uses for managing correspondence
and official records.
But it remains a project led by NIH, for both ourselves and OS.
Star Kline is the SERCH project officer. She began work on the
project as part of her job as information systems manager in exec
sec. She is now detailed into a position reporting to NIH deputy
director Dr. Raynard Kington so that she can devote all her energies
SERCH will become the system exec sec uses for managing correspondence
and official records of the NIH director and deputy director and
correspondence controlled by OS that is assigned to the HHS agencies,
including NIH; all of the institutes, centers and OD offices will
be "end users" of the system in processing documents controlled
by OS and exec sec.
Current plans call for implementation of SERCH in May. It is also
a system that ICs and OD offices can buy into so they can process
and manage their own documents and records; as of the end of February,
six ICs had already signed on to use the system. Implementation
within those ICs is not yet scheduled, but it is becoming clear
that SERCH won't be limited to correspondence. Potential users
keep identifying other applications for it, from the NIH Ethics
Program to records of scientific programs.
Following NIH implementation of SERCH, OS will use it for HHS
regulations and correspondence in June — which will make "end
users" of all of the HHS agencies. A number of the agencies have
been working with Kline to expand SERCH's usefulness.
A demonstration of the system is scheduled for Wednesday, Apr.
20 at 8:45 a.m. in Lipsett Amphitheater, Bldg. 10. Anyone interested
in attending the demonstration — which will include one of
the first government applications of digital signature — can
visit http://training.cit.nih.gov/ and
register for course #709.