C'mon, now -- everybody knows that one of the real purposes of government is to devise more forms for citizens to fill out and bureaucrats to review. But here's an announcement from the District of Columbia that says otherwise. It says, by golly, that the city's most awkwardly named agency -- the Department of Licenses, Investigations and Inspections (LII) -- now will use a scant four forms to replace 29 building applications that previously were required.

According to an announcement attributed to the mayor's office, the simplified system to go into effect next Monday was devised by a task force of city officials and building industry representatives, which was headed by LII's acting director, Carol Thompson.

Over the years, the multiple forms have been a constant irritant to builders. "This carefully planned and designed new system will provide faster and better service . . . [and] reduce longstanding problems . . . which developed over the years as a patchwork of regulations and forms grew," Mayor Marion Barry said.

The four new forms are:

* Application for construction permits on private property. This replaces 13 old forms for such things as new buildings, remodeling, fences, signs and demolitions.

* Application for permits to install supplemental systems in a building. This replaces six old forms for such things as electrical, plumbing and air conditioning installations.

* Application for public space permits. This replaces eight old forms involving cranes, trucks, dumpsters, excavations, grading, sidewalk cafes and the like.

* Application for water or sewer excavation permits. This replaces only two old forms, as suggested by its title, but every little bit helps.

A special instruction sheet with a table of necessary forms and telephone numbers has been prepared. For homeowners planning do-it-yourself jobs, a flyer has been prepared containing a sample of the kind of drawing needed to accompany a permit application.

For two weeks, LII said the old forms will be accepted. The permit office is at 614 H St. NW.