City of Olympia Simplifies and Improves Their Electronic Notary Process

In state and local government, modernizing legacy infrastructure and services can boost internal morale, save time and cost and ultimately improve overall mission effectiveness. 

The City of Olympia, Washington realized these outcomes and more by implementing DocuSign eSignature to overcome the challenges related to managing all contracts that go through the city clerk. 

This solution was critical for allowing employees to work from home and paved the way for the city to adopt DocuSign Notary, which makes it possible to sign and notarize documents remotely and electronically via a secure audio-visual session.

Shonte Eldridge, DocuSign senior director for state and local government strategy and solution, recently sat down with Sean Krier, the city clerk at the City of Olympia, to gain his perspective on how the City of Olympia has transformed its contracting and notarization. 

Krier also provides tips for gaining buy-in for this combined solution and insights for how other cities can centralize and streamline their contracting processes.

Below are some highlights and commentary from this discussion. 

Introducing new processes and technology tools for routing contracts across multiple departments can be challenging. What was the key to getting buy-in and driving adoption?

Since all documents flow through legal, close collaboration with the city’s attorneys was critical. Krier partnered with the attorneys to get approval to move forward – further strengthening their close relationship. The city’s attorneys and Krier had already partnered in establishing an eSignature policy for the City.

“Without our Legal department’s support, we would not have moved forward,” said Krier. “The attorneys were the biggest proponents of using the solution. And in the midst of the pandemic, it allowed everyone, even the attorneys, to work safely from home.”

At the City of Olympia, many employees were already familiar with eSignature technologies from using it in their personal lives. In addition, employees viewed signing documents remotely from home as being a much better alternative to driving into the office to manually sign and route documents. 

Why did the city expand into using Notary?

The City wanted a capability where eSignature and Notary were all combined into one solution, which minimized the need for exporting documents out of the system and manually notarizing them. 

The City has five to six full time notaries, and using this solution gives them the flexibility to work from home, while also being able to electronically notarize more documents.  

“We would have to drive into the office to help the city manager or department director to sign a document,” said Krier. “We also didn’t have to spend time playing tag with who was in the building.”

The City of Olympia’s planning department is the most active user of the solution for legal documents related to land use and permitting. 

Do you have any advice for other government leaders considering implementing a remote notary process? 

In addition to partnering with the legal department, getting buy-in from the ground up, across all city departments was important. 

“While land use will be the primary user for now,” said Krier. “We are actually looking at a city-wide implementation for use by our personnel in contracts, legal, permitting, as well as the city manager's office. We have seen the value of Notary and wanted to make sure everyone was involved from the beginning.”

How has digitizing contracts and notary processes helped the City of Olympia increase employee satisfaction and reduce costs?

The City of Olympia saw tremendous decrease in turnaround times to get contracts signed and routed, and have already experienced significant costs-savings. What took two weeks to get a contract signed now only takes about one day.

“We did some soft cost calculations and discovered that we had saved about $60,000 due to optimizing staff time,” said Krier. “When it comes to time saved, this was a surprise for us, since we are only sending around 1,400 documents through the solution. Moving forward, we imagine that this ROI will only increase.”

Additionally, City Council documents that used to take legal staff four hours to prep for signature, has now been reduced down to 15 minutes, just by using a DocuSign workflow that searches for certain terms to set up signature blocks. 

“They were able to upload the document, make sure everything was in place and then send it out for signature,” added Krier. 

Why did you choose DocuSign eSignature and Notary?

DocuSign eSignature makes it easy to efficiently get massive volumes of paperwork signed and routed to the appropriate parties when it comes to government contracting and procurement. It’s simple to use and only requires a minimal amount of time to get employees trained on the solution.

DocuSign Notary is a remote online notarization (RON) solution using audio-visual and identity proofing technologies. As a trusted way to remotely and electronically notarize agreements, it gives your notaries public the tools they need to securely conduct RON transactions via an encrypted audio-visual session.

Click here to learn more about DocuSign’s Agreement Cloud for Government.

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