A Form Guide for Universities

In today’s Oz, Philip Clarke and Nicholas Graves write about the ‘academenomics’ of forms. A snippet:

since the internet reduces the cost of collecting information to almost nothing, administrators often collect much more than they need, even if it imposes costs on others. This is what economists would term a negative externality associated with the production of forms.

What can be done to turn the bureaucratic tide?

One solution would be to create an internal market for the collection of information within universities. This would require those filling out forms to be paid a small fee to compensate them for the time taken. … those creating forms would need to equate the value of the information collected with its true cost, thereby reducing the incentive for ever more paperwork.

An alternative solution could be for academics at the receiving end of forms to respond with their own forms. They would do this by sending a stock reply to administrators acknowledging the importance of the form received but pleading limited time and seeking vital information.