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Form and Function: This D.C. Government ‘Palooza’ Aims To Fix Confusing Paperwork

posted Dec 26, 2018, 12:05 PM by Rahni Sumler   [ updated Dec 27, 2018, 6:52 AM ]
Reposted from Helen Wieffering at the DCist

If you’ve applied for a D.C. driver’s license in 2018, chances are you did less squinting than the applicants who came before you. If you purchased a home this year, you may have actually scanned your property for peeling paint before signing the lead disclosure form. Both of these forms were recently redesigned under a District initiative to help residents better understand and access government services.

Civic Participation in Action: Form-A-Palooza

photograph of a hand drawn outline for a government form

Participants at Form-a-palooza worked to redesign five D.C. government forms to be more user-friendly. (Photo by Helen Wieffering)
You can get engaged in your own city or town by contacting your mayor's office.
Rather than requiring details on your ‘’MEDICAL FITNESS,’’ the driver’s license application now gently prompts you to “Tell us about your medical history.” The lead disclosure form has shed its legal references to lessees, lessors and Code § 8-231.15(b), and instead guides residents in plain language toward practically assessing the risks of lead exposure at home.

The Lab @ DC: DC Mayor Bowser teams up with Scientists and Academics for Form-a-Palooza

This large-scale effort to ease the pain points surrounding government paperwork was kickstarted by The Lab @ DC, a diverse group of scientists and academics working within Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration to improve District policy and programs. The Lab held its first-ever Form-a-Palooza last summer, facilitating a day-long event for residents and city officials to work together to rethink some of our most commonly used forms. On Saturday, The Lab hosted Form-a-Palooza round two.

“It’s so nerdy,” remarked one volunteer as participants filed in early that Saturday morning; “it’s just so nerdy.”

Call to Action: Contact your Mayor's Office for your own 'Form-A-Palooza'

If you are in the United States, many changes that you want to see in every day governing are managed at the local, lower levels of government: city/town and county. The first to contact would be your mayor's office, depending on the sort of mayoralty in your city or town. Contacting your mayor can influence them to address some of your concerns in the legislative agenda. 

You can find out how to contact your mayors office by googling your city or town.