Forms on Federalist sites
Do you want to use a digital form to ask questions of the people visiting your Federalist website? Do you want them to fill out a form with their contact info or feedback? This page provides an overview of existing digital form tools and requirements so you can determine which best apply to your situation and get started.
A note about form services
Federalist pages are static websites. This means that while you can add a form to your site, there is no mechanism to handle the form submission to store and see the results. You’ll need to use a separate form service to use a digital form on your agency’s site. Federalist identified a list of service providers and setup instructions, through research funded by GSA’s 10x program. This list is not shared on this public government site to comply with federal laws, which prohibit federal agencies from giving the appearance of endorsement of particular vendors. Neither Federalist nor GSA promote any particular form service. You should check with your agency’s Office of Chief Information for what services are licensed and approved for your use.
Several requirements may apply to your agency’s digital form, whether posting to Federalist or another site.
What it is: The PRA determines how federal agencies collect information from the public. Adhering to this law doesn’t have to be complicated: this guide to the PRA will help you understand if and how PRA is applicable to your form.
Tip: If you do need to get PRA approval, publish a more basic version of your form that falls under a PRA exemption, and at the same time, submit your full version for review. This will allow you to move forward while you wait for approval, which can take 6 to 9 months.
What it is: 508 compliance requires that government websites be fully accessible to people with disabilities. The 21st Century IDEA Act amplifies this accessibility, and requires a modern user experience.
- Use the United States Web Design System (USWDS) to design your form. It’s built to help you more easily comply with accessibility. Federalist templates are all built using the USWDS. To design the different parts of your form, refer to USWDS form controls. Pre-built form templates offer great examples. Even if you use the USDWS, regularly scan for accessibility compliance.
- If you create a form without using the USWDS, follow 18F’s accessibility guide for forms to still ensure your form is accessible.
- Follow these plainlanguage guidelines to ensure your content is accessible to the public.
To get started: Use the USWDS to design your site. Regularly scan your site for accessibility. Contact the 508 Access Board for technical assistance .
What it is: The Privacy Act controls many aspects of an agency’s collection, maintenance, use, and dissemination of information about individuals. The type of information that falls under the Act is much broader than most people expect, and the agency has wide-ranging responsibilities.
A Note about Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs): When collecting information about individuals through digital forms, Section 208 of the E-Government Act of 2002 may require you to conduct a PIA.
- If you are required to develop Privacy Act documentation or conduct a PIA, you’ll need to work with your agency’s Privacy Office, which will coordinate as necessary with other relevant offices.
- Be prepared to explain to your Privacy Office the authority, purpose, and uses of the information you’re collecting on your digital form.
- You can find examples of your agency’s previous System of Records Notices (SORNs) and PIAs on your agency’s Privacy Program page.
How to get started: It is important that you start by first contacting your agency’s Privacy Office and telling them what you’re trying to accomplish. Ask if you need a new or modified SORN, a Privacy Act Statement on your form, and/or a PIA. GSA users should start by filling out the GSA Privacy Office intake form.
What is is: The data collected in your form needs to be stored and destroyed in compliance with the Federal Records Act. You are responsible for identifying what of your data is considered a record, and managing those records in accordance with your agency’s National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)-approved record schedule.
Tip: If your form data is considered a record, remember that the data collected in your form is stored in the forms service, not in Federalist.
To get started: Get in touch with your agency’s Records and Information Management (RIM) office.
Want to learn from other agencies using digital forms?
Join the Web Content Managers Forum.