E-forms on the fly at BLM

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E-forms and smart cards are intertwined at the Bureau of Land Management. 'Together they reduce the cost of operations,' Bob Donelson said. 'They merge the physical with the logical.'

As the bureau's senior property manager, Donelson aims to cut operating costs by re-engineering the cumbersome routing of 400 paper forms involving 10,000 internal users'not to mention the numerous external users who lease federal lands.

BLM is using Probaris SP software from Probaris Technologies Inc. of Philadelphia, running under Sun Microsystems Solaris on the bureau's intranet, to automate its forms business processes. When the external forms eventually go public, outside users will register and log in to access them via the Web.

'Probaris serves up secure forms, electronically signed' with BLM's smart cards, Donelson said.

Two-thirds of the bureau's employees work in the field as petroleum engineers, foresters and law enforcement officers. But BLM manages 269 million surface acres, which means each of its officers is responsible for about a million acres.

'Online efficiencies will let us put more of our resources back on the ground,' Donelson said.

For example, the Extensible Markup Language-compatible forms could be loaded on field employees' notebook PCs and personal digital assistants'avoiding travel to offices to transmit data.

'There are security concerns about wireless networking,' Donelson said. 'We're still working on that business case.' A decision about distributing wireless portables could come within about six months, he said.

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