NOAA 99-R527
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Keli Tarp
10/5/99

FEDERAL HELP DESK REGISTRY ESTABLISHED

Federal employees providing support for systems or services through a help desk are invited to take advantage of a new resource, the Federal Help Desk Registry, by registering their help desks on the World Wide Web at http://www.fedhelpdesk.osf.noaa.gov. This registry is not limited to computer systems help desks but is meant to address all federal help desk sites, regardless of the type of system or service involved. Federal help desks cover a wide range of subjects and most if not all federal agencies, such as the Weather Service's Next Generation Weather Radar hotline and the White House hot lines for policy assistance, providing a wide variety of user support and real time consulting.

"Existing professional support organizations often tend to focus on computer support alone," said Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD) Hotline manager, Daryl Covey, "excluding the many other help desks which may need even more to network and share practices. Believe it or not, I even know of one policy help desk, which interprets policy for state level users on behalf of EPA!"

Created and facilitated by Covey, the registry is designed to foster networking, bench marking and sharing of best practices among federal sector help desks. Membership is free and open to all federal help desks, regardless of size, location or type of support provided.

The help desk profiles collected on the Web site will be compiled and shared with all registrants for networking and professional interaction to enhance their operations, Covey said. Only federal employees are authorized to enter profiles, including those for contracted support. No individual profile or contact information will be released outside the federal sector.

"This registry is being created for the exclusive purpose of advancing the federal help desk community based on the wealth of valuable information available on how to do our collective job of supporting government people more effectively through networking," Covey said. "Together we can ensure that federal employees are enabled in the most progressive and effective manner to serve America."

The NEXRAD Hotline, which is part of the NEXRAD Operational Support facility supported by the Departments of Commerce, Defense and Transportation, has won several awards since it was established in 1991, including a recent Vice President's Hammer Award for Reinventing Government.

"A lot of our success in support has to do with being able to learn from where others have been and not go there ourselves," Covey said. "We are often contacted by other federal help desks who are trying to get started or consolidate. We've seen and experienced the value in talking with someone who has been there."

The accelerating advances of technology into almost every facet of American life places user support in an increasingly strategic position, Covey said. Many of the country's top businesses share their help desks' best practices with each other through support industry organizations, but the federal sector has been slow to come together formally.

Some of the common challenges faced by federal help desks include a unique fiscal cycle and changes brought about by new legislation. The registry is a logical step, Covey said, to assist federal help desks in their key role to make government services responsive to customers' needs and maximize the effectiveness of the government's most valuable asset – people.

Based on the response received, Covey has future plans for the federal help desk group, including a networking and bench marking forum to be convened in 2000. Additional information on this initiative is available by contacting Covey at (405) 366-6510, ext. 1232 or dcovey@osf.noaa.gov. The NEXRAD Hotline is a part of the NEXRAD Operational Support Facility in Norman, Oklahoma.