The General Services Administration has put hundreds
of commonly used federal forms on a one-stop web site. These GSA
forms, Standard Forms, and Optional Forms can be viewed, filled
in, printed, e-mailed or faxed directly from the Internet. This
unique site eliminates the need for users to purchase costly formfill
packages and makes many commonly used government forms easily accessible
to federal agencies as well as the public.
The first issue of Access America Online Magazine
on October 2, 1998, carried the story
The Web Forms site was
later featured in the Federal
and Government Executive magazine and was introduced
to numerous federal agencies in a series of workshops last spring.
Johnny Young, now Director of Creativity and Emerging
Technologies in GSAs Office of Communications, hoped that
WebForms would be the first step toward a web-based repository of
all federal forms used by the public or federal employees. His vision
is coming true.
Over the past year, the WebForms site has grown
to more than 25,000 users, including about 3000 GSA employees. Many
users have accessed forms from the site 100 times or more. Many
agencies, including OPM, have created links to the site from their
own web pages, and several have purchased the DocNet software for
their internal forms.
Young told the Federal Times "Forms
move the government. What I try to do is eliminate, as much as possible,
the costs associated with completing and processing of forms."
The public has responded very favorably to the convenience of online
access, and costs for printing and warehousing paper forms have
been reduced significantly, according to Young. The addition of
features such as digital signature capability using Smart Card technology
and XML tagging for database integration is expected to greatly
increase functionality in the future, he said.
Background: GSA Turned a Major Problem into a Visionary Solution
"When a previously-used proprietary forms package
became obsolete with the introduction of Windows 95 and NT technologies,"
Young said, "GSA was faced with the enormous task of redesigning
hundreds of widely used federal forms. We were determined to avoid
any proprietary limitations in the future, so we sought a software
solution which would digitally capture existing forms images from
virtually any design package and make them quickly available to
agencies and the public on the Internet.
"Many agencies have made significant investments
in design software with links to internal databases," Young continued.
"Our goal is to provide the current, legally correct images electronically
for all government agencies without interfering with their preferred
design or workflow procedures. "
Web Forms Has Features to Help the User
Through a development partnership with Intercon
Associates in Rochester, New York, and Moore North America, this
vision became reality in the spring of 1998. The GSA Web Forms site
includes free DocNet TM web-fill software developed by Intercon
which can be downloaded once and launched as a helper application
each time a form is chosen to view or fill.
John C. Paroda, President, Intercon, said "Since
DocNets announcement, weve had an enormous amount of
interest. The response for our seminar attendance was so overwhelming
that we had to turn people away. Therefore, weve decided to
offer at least three more seminars in the fall. This interest has
led us to believe weve hit a home run not only for us but
also for the Government. Currently we are working with strategic
partners to develop other "tie-in" applications to DocNet
(not yet introduced), including software and hardware products with
true e-commerce functionality, which we expect will get as much
if not more attention than DocNet."
How WebForms Site Works
Those unfamiliar with official form titles or numbers
can use the Query Screen to search by Agency, by keyword in the
title, or by form type (i.e. personnel, legal, budget and appropriations)
to obtain a listing of all forms matching the criteria selected.
Additional forms being added daily to the repository.
Jan Wendler, in GSA's Office of Communications,
said "It is not unusual to receive a call from a customer requesting
an urgently needed form to meet a contracting deadline. I can now
map the fields and make the forms available on the web within minutes
rather than weeks. Where electronic images are not available, I
can scan the existing paper forms and quickly map them as well."
People Love It
Response from federal agencies and the public continues
to be overwhelmingly positive. GSA has received numerous e-mail
letters from federal employees and the general public. "They report
time savings on key projects and express appreciation for the convenience
of accessing these documents," Wendler said.
How Agencies and Their Customers Can Benefit
Young believes that a governmentwide site for all
federal forms with related regulations and instructions (in simple
language) is one way to help meet the Vice President's goal of interagency
collaboration to achieve It solutions to serve the public better.
"Customers constantly express frustration that there is no one location
to search for documents. They spend hours jumping from site to site
hitting roadblock after roadblock," Young said that cost savings
in the millions of dollars could clearly be realized based on the
- Reduced need for printing and warehousing of
- No more obsolescence cost
- Reduced mailing costs
- Increased accuracy due to validation rules in
the forms as they are filled
- Faster routing of information/transactions without
- Elimination of duplication of effort across
agencies to make the same forms and documents available in many
- Reduced software license fees for desktop filler
For More Information
You can obtain more information on this project
- GSA Office of Communications:
- Jan Wendler, 770-390-9696, email@example.com
- Johnny Young, 202-501-1961, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ted Freed, 202-501-0492, email@example.com
- Intercon Associates:
John C. Paroda, 716-244-1250, http://www.interconweb.com