Five ways to automate government workflow

by American City & County Contributor
Jul 18, 2018

By Chris Byers

State and local governments are under constant scrutiny to provide consistent and responsive customer experiences to every citizen—after all, government exists to serve the governed. However, because government agencies are regularly asked to do more with less, officials are increasingly looking to technology to help stretch tax dollars further and give their staff some much needed assistance.

According to Formstack’s recent report, “The State of Workflow Automation in 2018,” 55 percent of managers are spending 8 hours—one full work day—or more per week on administrative tasks, rather than the strategic, high-value initiatives that citizens want.

Furthermore, according to the Office of Management and Budget, government paperwork and information collection costs the federal government alone more than $116 billion per year.

Online forms and data capture can make state and local government dramatically more effective. Here are just a few areas in which digital forms can improve efficiency and customer experiences:

Public assistance

Local and state government organizations are responsible for running public assistance programs that offer aid (such as financial assistance or health benefits) to people in need. Online forms increase the application and review process, while protecting user identities. Here’s how:

  • Online applications that give residents a quick and easy way to request assistance

  • Data encryption that prevents unauthorized users from accessing public assistance program data

  • WCAG and Section 508 compliance that ensures your online government forms are accessible to users with disabilities


Keeping government positions filled is essential to the success of important programs and community efforts. While the hiring process can be cumbersome for organizations with limited resources, the right tools can ease the pain. To this end, online forms have several beneficial offerings:

  • Professional online forms for hiring requests, government job applications, interview feedback, and more

  • A file upload field that allows applicants to easily attach resumes and cover letters to their online applications

  • An approvals feature that automatically routes new applications to the hiring manager for candidate review

Citizen Engagement

Building relationships with citizens or residents is an important, but unspoken, government task. Most government organizations engage with the people they serve through community surveys, such as an environmental issues survey or a trash removal survey. Workflow automation and online forms can make communication more effective with these features:

  • Mobile-friendly government forms that are easily accessible and meet citizens where they are (on their smartphones!)

  • Email marketing integrations that allow you to automatically add survey respondents to an email list for further engagement

  • Customizable submission reports that you can use to analyze survey feedback

Permit management

From building and zoning permits to transportation permits to large gathering permits, government organizations are flooded with permit applications that must be reviewed. Look for these features to streamline permit processing:

  • Online permit applications (such as a handicap parking permit form or an application for building permit form) that can be embedded or shared on your organization’s website

  • Electronic signatures that allow you to get proper acknowledgement and authorization on permit applications

  • Automated submission notifications that alert you of new permit application submissions in real time for prompt follow-up

Grant processing

The government funds recovery initiatives, innovative research, and other projects that provide a public service or stimulate the economy. Improve your grant processing with these features:

  • Online government grant application forms that allow citizens and organizations to provide complete and accurate details on their grant requests

  • A workflow automation feature that can significantly streamline grant processing by letting you and your staff easily review, edit, and comment on grant applications

  • Notification emails that alert you whenever someone submits a new grant request

With the availability of online workflow management solutions, there’s simply no reason to continue spending valuable hours on repetitive tasks. As we head further into 2018, it’s time to focus on aligning goals with the workflow automation tools that can empower city officials to create more efficiency and save more time and money.


Chris Byers is the CEO of data management company Formstack.

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