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Making Databases Work for Clients

College Park Firm Tames Information

By Ellen McCarthy
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 17, 2005; Page E05

Every year GuideStar, a Williamsburg organization that tracks statistics of nonprofit groups, processes about 12 million pages of documents, most of them complex tax forms filed by the nonprofits.

Three years ago GuideStar would ship the documents to a processing center where people sitting in front of computers would type each bit of relevant information line by line into a database. And not much was done with the documents.

At DataStream Content Solutions, from left, Edward L. Schulke, chief information officer; Valerie M. Voci, vice president of business development, and Mark M. Anstey, president, help clients manage massive blocks of data. (Juana Arias -- The Washington Post)

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Then the organization hired the small College Park technology firm DataStream Content Solutions LLC to come up with a more effective system.

"It's sort of like filing the books in order in a library, rather than just throwing them up haphazardly on the shelf," Chuck McLean, vice president of research at GuideStar, said of the result.

DataStream's concept is not complicated. The company developed technology that converts documents into Internet-based files that can be searched, organized and easily stored.

The firm has about a dozen continuing customers that constantly have new documents coming. But it also does project-based work for law firms and other businesses that have accumulated large quantities of records over the years and need to transform the files into a more usable form.

The company has plenty of competition. But Mark M. Anstey DataStream's chief executive, said his company can create systems more closely tailored to the needs of clients and do it at a competitive price.

The company was founded in 1994, but settled on its current business model in 1999.

It has since added several new managers, including Valerie M. Voci, who previously worked as vice president and publisher of Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive Co.

Last year, the 27-person firm acquired Potomac Publishing, a small company that had a database of congressional documents dating back to the nation's first years.

DataStream is finishing a system that will track the impact of new pieces of legislation on existing laws, which are contained in its database. The company is beginning to roll out the subscription-based service, which Antsey said could play a key role in DataStream's future.

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