GSA Supports Relief Effort
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Posted January 13, 2005
When a tsunami struck on December 26, 2004, family members and friends of Americans caught in the affected areas wanted to know if loved ones were safe. Some called the State Department’s Office of Overseas Citizen Services (OCS) special hotline number. GSA’s National Contact Center (NCC) operates the hotline on behalf of the State Department.
While normally receiving about 300 calls a day, the hotline averaged over 2,000 calls per day during this crisis. The NCC, which is part of GSA’s USA Services—one of the president’s E-Government initiatives—extended coverage of its OCS hotline to a 24/7 operation until the demand subsided.
FirstGov.gov, the U.S. government’s official web portal operated by GSA, quickly published information on relief efforts. The Asia Tsunami Disaster page provides links to websites of embassies in affected countries and to the FamilyLinks website, an effort of the Red Cross.
The assistance of GSA’s Federal Supply Service, although not as visible to the public, made a difference to the military relief effort in support of tsunami victims. Almost $10,000 worth of supplies was purchased through the GSA store on the Yokota Air Force Base in Japan to support military staff deploying to disaster sites.
GSA associates, like other federal employees, are personally responding to the effort. Office of Personnel Management Director Kay Coles James authorized agencies to allow a special solicitation for donations, outside the regular Combined Federal Campaign giving. Federal agencies may advise their employees to visit the U.S. Agency for International Development website, which has links to organizations supporting the relief effort.