Programmed PDF Forms to Redesign & Digitize State Operations

Programmed PDF Forms to Redesign & Digitize State Operations

What problem does it solve? Forms are the circulatory system of operations, yet in a digital age NJ still uses paper. CDG measured state use of tech to improve service delivery, increase capacity, streamline operations, & reach policy goals: NJ is 1 of 6 to receive the lowest score. NJ must rethink outdated forms considering new technological capabilities to design digital processes centered around users. For a workforce w/ limited IT literacy, this means outsourcing (costing millions in business analysis/software design). What is your solution and who does it apply to? Use Adobe PDF forms, JavaScript & Microsoft integrations to cost-efficiently design digital operations iteratively, without interruption of service, while retraining staff to make smart use of technology. Seminars teach staff design thinking, systems analysis, data management & Adobe/Microsoft software. Workshops empower them to rethink, streamline & redesign forms/processes to remove barriers of access, update content/design, collect/store data electronically, connect to/clean up data sources, autopopulate & automate processing. PDF forms can be improved/edited at very low cost as feedback is collected from use. They integrate w/ Outlook, SharePoint & social working software to enhance tracking, processing, communication & collaboration. Datasets (incl. CFS/SAGE) connect to SharePoint lists/libraries that connect to forms (JavaScript) for data sourcing, validation & analysis, enhancing ease of use, standardization & self-service (incl. e-payment) & improving insight into data/metrics. What is the anticipated impact? PDF forms provide a lowest cost working prototype for a digital NJ, a functioning blueprint which acts as powerful requirements documentation that can save millions when transitioning to a more sophisticated digital platform in the future. They enable smooth transition from a paper culture to a digital one, integrate with any software system & allow for both flexible customization & equitable standardization. The design process engages staff on a deeper level & empowers them to create new form systems iteratively & reach digitization objectives quickly, without interrupting service (rather enhancing it). Ohio was able to save $21M in 1 year after digitizing; Hawaii reduced service delivery time from weeks to hours. NJ can save $20M + per year, eliminate data entry, improve responsiveness & perception of value in government programs, retrain employees, enhance focus on program/policy goals, stimulate quality improvement, spark innovation & reinvent the working culture of NJ government.


Good job! What a time and money saver!

Educating folks on the benefits of certain technological advances is a challenge. Further, getting buy in from those use to and comfortable with old systems poses a challenge. However, providing adequate notice and training on the new technology would be of benefit and may help bridge the gap between the old and new.

I am all for technology and have worked in previous jobs with systems that were designed to do what the state hopes to do with digitization. However, without a culture of learning in the state it is unlikely technology, including digitization, will result in the intended outcomes of increased efficiency, productivity and cost savings. Creating such a culture requires a plan and implementation at the highest level of the organization.

I support this.

The next and most critical step in this proposed digital system is writing the application(s) that can then process that information on the back end.

Digital signatures on electronic forms saves so much paper and time!


In the name of improved accountability, maximum efficiency, and enhanced accuracy, the State of New Jersey should encourage the appropriate use of technology (including the increased use of electronic documentation that is advocated here).

Anything that can simplify the use of forms is of great benefit not only to the employees, but to the public as well. Forms need to be end user friendly and forward thinking. We are behind the times so to speak in this area. This is a good idea and I vote yes for it.

Saves time, money and other resources to go digital. The current paper form method is time consuming and requires so many hands to touch a project that before long the associated cost of a project skyrockets. Double data entry is also antiquated and a redundant waste of time and energy.

This would help tremendously for certain projects where multiple copies are needed for different people. If we are able to view something online it will eliminate the multiple copies and not have massive amounts of paper being saved. This will mean less filing cabinets taking up space. Also the amount of money and time that goes into printing the paper. These projects need multiple signatures and change hands frequently, because of this it tends to hold up State projects on roads and bridges.

Once we rethink our paper processes to design the electronic PDF forms systems from the bottom up, centered around staff and users, we can evolve toward more sophisticated digital tools and platforms more efficiently and effectively as time goes by. This plan meets staff where they are and helps them evolve at a steady pace with the assistance they need. Departments can grow more organically toward digitization without relying on high cost solutions that are designed by outside vendors.

I agree that there is a learning curve, but our current society expects things to be online and and that they should be able to type of up applications (instead of print them out and complete by hand). We have been attempting to digitize everything that we used to store in cabinets. This has saved us time, makes the files more secure and has significantly reduce lost/misfiled paper files. In addition, the empty cabinets can be sold by the state and will not take up floor space.

Back to group

This content is created by the open source Your Priorities citizen engagement platform designed by the non profit Citizens Foundation

Your Priorities on GitHub

Check out the Citizens Foundation website for more information