Adobe to buy e-forms firm

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"Showing good form"

Adobe Systems Inc., inventor of the PDF file format widely used by government agencies, is buying Accelio Corp., a producer of electronic forms. The acquisition is intended to help Adobe — whose document software is already widely used in government — move into the growing field of online forms.

Government agencies have already begun moving business processes online to reduce costs and increase productivity, said Shantanu Narayen, Adobe's vice president. And that trend will accelerate as the effective date of the Government Paperwork Elimination Act (GPEA) approaches, he added. By Oct. 21, 2003, the act says, government agencies must allow people to submit information or transact business electronically "where practicable."

Initially, online government forms will mainly be aimed at government-to- business transactions, but as the GPEA date draws near, government-to- consumer transactions will also be made available online, Narayen said.

The merger "could be a double-edged sword," said Jason Mahler, vice president of the Computer and Communications Industry Association.

On one hand, Adobe could help government agencies move to electronic government by making it possible for citizens to perform such transactions as applying for passports, government loans or grants online.

But greater ability to conduct business online could also entice agencies to develop services that are not governmental, Mahler said.

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