Spitzer Announces That Red Cross, September 11th Fund Agree To Join Confidential Database To Help World Trade Center Victims

Attorney General Spitzer announced today that the two largest groups involved in relief efforts for the victims of the World Trade Center tragedy have agreed in principle to participate in a confidential, shared data base that will track applications for assistance by victims of the attack.

Together, the two groups -- The American Red Cross, and the September 11th Fund, which was established by the United Way and New York Community Trust -- have received over $800 million, which represents over 70% of the total money donated on behalf of the victims. The organizations are expected to formally approve their participation within the next few days.

The Attorney General noted that the Salvation Army has also agreed to take part in the sharing of information.

The database being established by Spitzer is based on similar efforts in Oklahoma City following the bombing of the Murrah building in 1995.

"Having the Red Cross, September 11th Fund and Salvation Army on board is great news for all of us who want to ensure that every dime and every dollar possible of what's been donated goes to the victims," said Spitzer. "I want to applaud these groups for stepping forward and setting a great example for all of those involved in the relief efforts.

"Those in charge of the relief effort in Oklahoma City tell us that a similar database established there was an enormous help in coordinating the efforts of relief agencies and reducing duplication of services and fraud. We envision our database achieving those same goals."

The Chief Executive of the September 11th Fund, Joshua Gotbaum said, "We are encouraged by progress in this important effort to better serve the victims and their families."

Gordon J. Campbell, the Chief Executive Officer of Safe Horizon, one of the major groups funded by the September 11th Fund, said, "As one of the leading organizations providing assistance to victims of the World Trade Center attacks, Safe Horizon supports the efforts of the Attorney General to establish a database that promotes the coordination of services while respecting client confidentiality. Because of the magnitude of this tragedy and the needs of those impacted by it, it is important that all organizations- public and private- work together in this relief effort."

Spitzer said that the database will likely be administered by one of the major accounting firms. To protect the privacy of people applying for aid, only those charities and agencies involved in relief efforts will be able to request information from the firm that will run the database. The Attorney General is hoping to have the database functioning within the next month.

To date, over one billion dollars has been received by relief organizations. Spitzer's office has already compiled a website, www.wtcrelief.info, which lists over 190 of these groups and organizations, and offers a search function that permits those using the site to punch in keywords like 'lost wages' or 'college education' and be linked to those groups offering specific help.