Brown Bag Lunch Event with Dr. Jim Williams and Sheraz Hanif

The Albert Gore Research Center at MTSU cordially invites you to the next in our series of occasional brown bag lunch discussions on contemporary issues in archival management, featuring Sheraz Hanif, Senior Systems Analyst in the Information Technology Division at MTSU and center director Jim Williams. In addition to those interested in archival management, this brown bag will also be of interest to those in information technology, computer information systems, and the like.

“Managing Electronic Constituent Databases from Congressional Offices”

 In 2011 the Albert Gore Research Center received two sets of electronic data from retiring Tennessee Congressmen Bart Gordon and Zach Wamp. In the form of DVDs from Lockheed Martin, one of several contractors that provides office management software to members of the U.S. House of Representatives, both sets of data contain millions of electronic records regarding constituents who either wrote to their representatives expressing opinions about various legislative issues or asking for assistance with government benefits (casework).

Here’s the catch. Lockheed Martin’s system is proprietary and it only provides “exit conversions” of data from its IQ system in the form of raw text files subdivided into many fields. The challenges for the Gore Research Center include reconstructing a database interface so that the data can be accessed in a way that resembles the IQ system while also abiding by privacy restrictions (50 to 75 years) contained in the deeds of gift from Gordon and Wamp.

After introducing the story of how MTSU acquired these sets of data and the challenges he faces managing the data into the future, Williams will turn the floor over to Hanif, who will explain some of the technical issues he has overcome in creating an interface that he will also demonstrate to those present. As there is currently no public access to the data, this is the only chance you’ll have to see the database at work. The discussion will also include how the databases may be used by researchers within the bounds of the privacy restrictions, and how MTSU is seeking to create a consortium with other archival institutions to manage IQ data sets that are being deposited with congressional and other political papers.

Bring your own lunch to the Albert Gore Research Center Conference Room (Todd Hall 129) at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, November 14th, and join the discussion.

Everyone is welcome. No RSVP required.

For more information, please contact AGRC director Jim Williams (jim.williams@mtsu.edu; 898-2633)

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