Government Use of Electronic Signatures

A better citizen experience with digital transactions

Today more than 1,300 federal, state and local government agencies in all 50 states use electronic signatures to process electronic forms, applications, and manage correspondence.

Since the ESIGN Act, signed in 2000, the federal government recognizes electronic signatures as a valid form of expression of assent that is equivalent to a written “wet” signature. This paved the way for a new age of digitized business.

The adoption of electronic signatures became the foundation for government agencies to explore a more digital citizen experience. E-signature technology has also helped agencies scale to meet increased demand, operate more efficiently and realize cost savings from hard costs like paper, ink and mail.

“E-signature technology enables individuals, non-profits, and governments to keep doing critical business in a safe, contact-free way with online signatures.” - Sam Liccardo, Mayor, San Jose, California

ESIGN versus UETA

The Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) was passed in 1999 by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL), and provides states with a framework for determining the legality of an electronic signature in government transactions at the state and local level.

UETA was quickly adopted by a handful of states, but inconsistencies occurred, which brought about the passage of the ESIGN Act by the federal government in 2000. 

To learn more about the legality of electronic signatures see our electronic signature legality guide.

Government E-signature Success Stories

Since the passage of electronic signature legislation, there have been some very significant government success stories that are worthy of highlighting on the twentieth anniversary of the ESIGN Act.

From housing authorities to ACA marketplaces

City-level housing authorities have to manage complex webs of agreements for providing housing assistance for low-income residents. As one of the fastest-growing U.S. cities, the City of San Antonio had to best manage its population boom while also meeting the housing needs through the San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHA).

In order to meet this demand, and move away from relying on disparate systems for signing and tracking agreements, SAHA turned to DocuSign to document and track business partnerships and ongoing opportunities. As a result, the time to complete procurement requests went from three weeks to only two days – providing more time for employees to focus on serving the community.

With its massive population, the State of California also needed automated processes for helping citizens to sign up for ACA-compliant health plans through its state-based marketplace called Covered California.

As such, it turned to DocuSign to create a custom solution for automating processes for reviewing and approving agreements from the entities that provide Californians with access to ACA-qualified health plans. All agreements now move seamlessly through the approval process, which is trackable, secure, transparent, and 100 percent automated.

From essential services for the disabled to better processes for business owners

Providing essential services to the disabled is vital for state and local governments. In Santa Barbara, Calif., the Tri-Counties Regional Center connects 13,000 of these citizens to the resources they need to enhance their quality of life.

Tri-Counties needed a more efficient agreement management process to automate and streamline manual, paper-intensive workflows to better serve their clients. As such, it selected DocuSign to expedite critical patient care, and has resulted in 200,000 pieces of paper saved in two years, a 50 percent increase in face-to-face contact with citizens in need, and a 37 percent decrease in staff note taking.

Being known as the tech capital of the world, the City of San Francisco sought to streamline the processes for entrepreneurs to grow or start their own businesses. As more and more digital solutions became available, various city departments began implementing those solutions, but the effort was fragmented.

City leaders turned to DocuSign as an opportunity to go paperless and streamline these processes. The city created a business portal via a digital enterprise application process, allowing for those wanting to start a business to only have to fill out a single application using DocuSign eSignature that could be used across multiple departments. As a result, business portal engagement has come up 13 times, and the user experience has been significantly improved.

Finally, First Five Santa Clara County offers a wide-range of programs for healthy child development, but found the contracting process with 100 different organizations in the county, school districts, and child care providers to be too long and cumbersome. The county implemented DocuSign eSignature to speed up the contract execution process and eliminate paper-based processes.This resulted in a 50 percent reduction in contract execution time, increased transparency/accountability, and reduced overall errors and missing contracts.

“As the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors looks to extend commute-free work beyond the COVID-19 pandemic for our workforce of 22,000 and for employers across Silicon Valley, tools such as e-signatures help us to embrace the telework model. E-signatures not only save time, money, and energy, they are better for our environment and reduce waste.” – Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese

It’s hard to believe that it's been 20 years since the passage of ESIGN, and 21 years since UETA went live. Much has been achieved in terms of government streamlining its processes to best serve citizens and the mission during this time. 

Explore electronic signature solutions for public sector.

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