County integrating online forms

Albany County, N.Y.

The Albany County government in New York will begin to standardize the way it processes forms across more than 30 departments and offices following the recent award of a business automation contract.

Cardiff Inc.'s LiquidOffice eForm solution will back the county's drive to eliminate the costly manual process it uses to handle forms, according to Mark Dorry, Albany's chief information officer. It will enable the county to post most of its forms as Web-based interactive forms that will be available to employees and the public.

The Albany program is indicative of a new round of Web-enabled programs as governments try to move beyond their initial efforts at putting forms online to developing more integrated approaches to forms processing, said Russ Gould, Cardiff's director of product management.

"[Organizations] have previously tried such things as posting PDF versions of forms online that people could download and fill out," he said. "But they found that, although that approach eliminated storage and printing costs, it didn't do anything about other costs of processing, such as routing and having to manually enter the data into back-end systems."

The key is the ability to integrate multiple systems that run different applications so that data collected from forms can be shared among them, said George Hawat, information technology manager for Boston, which also uses Cardiff's solution.

"We do have systems that we developed in-house, but they didn't have this kind of sophistication," he said. "Eventually, we'd also like to integrate what we have today with such things as a PeopleSoft Inc. system."

While the next year could prove "a toss-up" as far as increasing demand from the public sector for these automation solutions is concerned, Gould said, increasing electronic business mandates are already driving the government market beyond the early adopter stage.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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