Government bureaucracy is synonymous with long lines at the DMV and a quagmire of red tape and paperwork. Completing and processing government paperwork by hand takes an insufferable amount of time and results in huge inefficiency. Just getting a new stoplight installed on your San Francisco street corner can take almost three years and cost $187,500, in part because of the extensive bureaucratic process.

Filing Paperwork Electronically Can Make Government Faster and Work Better

Making matters worse, some government forms are a complete mystery. Let’s just take one form that every government official is familiar with, because they need to file these forms themselves.
All public officials are required by the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) to file a Conflict of Interest Statement (Form 700) with their local city clerk, and until recently, there was no centralized online submission system.

Now this is just one form – but it is important for a couple of reasons. First – we want to make sure these forms are all filed, filed accurately, and filed in a fashion that makes it easy for the public to review. After all – identifying potential conflicts of interest is the starting point of government reform.

And second – this is a Gov 2.0 “teachable moment.” If we can show elected officials how easy it is to file something quickly online – maybe a lot more of them will start to get it. The rest of the world is on the web – time for government to catch up.

Gov 2.0 at Work – Electronic Submission Pilot Program

That’s why we noted with interest when reported that six counties in Southern California will soon be completing a pilot program of DisclosureDocs, a user-friendly system that streamlines the management of the Form 700. With this commonsense Government 2.0 tool, public officials can prepare and submit the form electronically, and city bureaucracies can provide instant access to information. Electronic submission makes government oversight more transparent, productive and cost-effective. In addition to speeding up the submission and reviewing process, DisclosureDocs also helps filers and city bureaucrats avoid mistakes. Local governments save time and money while improving their ability to enforce regulations. If approved by the State legislature, electronic submissions of Form 700 could soon be available statewide.

Anything the OC can do, SF can do better

What do you think of San Francisco’s online services? provides a wealth of information and resources for residents and business, but many forms still need to be filled out and turned in by hand. Whether it’s a pothole on your street or a food handling license for your restaurant, creating a centralized electronic submission system for all city departments and commissions would make SFGov more efficient and accessible for everyone. We could reduce the budget deficit, streamline bureaucracy and still have time to catch the food truck rodeo.