FEMA wants help tracking disaster relief donations

Hours after Hurricane Katrina struck, the nonprofit Aidmatrix Foundation began setting up temporary IT systems to mobilize, warehouse, track and distribute private donations of food and other goods and services for victims of the disaster.

Since then, Dallas-based Aidmatrix said it has raised more than $1 million and coordinated distribution of 30 million pounds of food aid in 34 Gulf Coast communities affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Now the Homeland Security Department is looking to purchase software to set up similar donation clearinghouse IT capabilities permanently within the federal government.

It is looking at Aidmatrix , which is funded in part by IT integrator Accenture Ltd. of Hamilton, Bermuda, and reaching out to find possible alternatives to the Aidmatrix model as well.

The department's Federal Emergency Management Agency posted a notice that it is looking for IT vendors that can meet its requirements to create a central repository for tracking information on disaster-related donations.

If no software firm meets the requirements, FEMA said it may negotiate a sole-source contract with Aidmatrix, which it said is already performing much of the core component work.

FEMA intends to deploy the new software in May. It is looking for an IT solution that can interact with federal agencies, integrate with private donations systems run by groups such as the American Red Cross, Adventist Community Services and Second Harvest and expand upon current capabilities, among other requirements.

Aidmatrix, in a press release, compared its IT systems to being "a bit akin to the New York Stock Exchange."

"Aidmatrix systems tender simplicity to the donor?individual or corporation, product or cash. They offer transparency and tracking to donor and beneficiary organization from point A to point Z. Because Aidmatrix mobilizes the right aid, it prevents the clogging of supply lines with unneeded items and helps create a flow of what is needed there and then," Aidmatrix said in the release.

In addition to Accenture, i2 Technology Inc. of Dallas is another major corporate IT donor to Aidmatrix.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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