GSA Quick to Respond in Katrina's Wake

Posted September 1, 2005

As Hurricane Katrina began to bear down on the Gulf Coast states, the U.S. General Services Administration immediately began its own preparations for providing assistance and support to citizens in the affected areas. GSA also knew assistance would be needed by federal agencies called to be part of the response and recovery effort in the hurricane’s aftermath.

“We are dealing with one of the worst natural disasters in our nation's history,” said President George W. Bush during a news conference from the Rose Garden hours after an aerial tour of the area.

“The folks on the Gulf Coast are going to need the help of this country for a long time. This is going to be a difficult road. The challenges that we face on the ground are unprecedented. But there's no doubt in my mind we're going to succeed,” said President Bush.

GSA is able to respond quickly in acquiring much needed support for citizens and, FirstGov en Español, and FirstContact are among the many ways the federal procurement and property management agency does that.

As Hurricane Katrina made landfall on August 29, and FirstGov en Español quickly began providing links for the latest information available on the hurricane as well as disaster assistance, donations and other recovery resources.
The most sought after information provided by FirstGov after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast states can be found within the Frequently Asked Questions database. Citizens can find answers to questions such as “How can I help the victims of Hurricane Katrina?” and “How can I locate a family member or friend affected by Hurricane Katrina?” as well as “How can I avoid donation scams concerning disaster assistance?” and so much more.

In addition to the web portals, FirstContact focuses solely on contact center management services and makes it possible for agencies caught in a time crunch to find help quickly.

Developed last year under USA Services, the Presidential E-Gov initiative, FirstContact offers a full range of contact center services, such as telephone and e-mail inquiry services, automated and interactive voice response services to federal agencies.

Following the hurricane devastation of last year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) used FirstContact to set up a call center to respond to victims of those hurricanes. Within days, a task order was awarded to FEMA and call center services were up and running.

Operated by GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Communications (OCSC), the National Contact Center answers citizen inquiries on behalf of several federal agencies, including the Department of State’s Overseas Citizens Services Hotline, the Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service Public Inquiry program, and the E-Gov initiatives,,, and SAFECOM.

As a federal procurement and property management agency, GSA is able to provide a wide range of services and supplies, including security service, temporary housing, office supplies, rental vehicles, fire rescue crews and much more in the event of a national emergency., FirstGov en Español and FirstContact are managed by GSA’s OCSC. FirstGov is the official web portal of the U.S. government.

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