How to Advance the Paperless Government Mission

These days, citizens have high expectations of the government to offer self-serve, mobile-friendly, digital tools that are available 24/7. In a time where rapid and effective response is paramount, government agencies need to move away from cumbersome mountains of paperwork that hinder success. Every year, government agencies spend a combined $38.7 billion1 on paper-intensive, manual processes that have nothing to do with their missions.

The time and money that could be spent creating value is wasted on paperwork that frustrates both citizens and government employees and creates unnecessary risk. Now is the time to advance the paperless government mission.

The Federal Department of Paperwork

In addition to the $38.7 billion spent on manual processes each year, there are 23,000 unique forms2 currently used across 66 government agencies. Half of them are paper or printable-only forms that require manual processing. To put this in perspective, if there were a “Federal Department of Paperwork,” it would have the seventh largest budget of any government agency – greater than that of the Treasury, EPA, NASA and others.

Each year, individuals and businesses spend 11 billion hours3 on government forms: reading instructions, printing them out, filling them out, sending them in (often by mail) and correcting errors. The cost to the public, even with some digital solutions, is estimated to be $117 billion annually4. This is the equivalent of a 7% income tax increase for every taxpayer.

A More Agreeable Government

The business world runs on agreements and government business is no exception. As a staple of government, forms are simply templates for agreements that must be prepared, signed, acted on and managed. Agreements are also used for internal activities – from facilities and IT to human resources, procurement and inter-agency business. This includes critical paperwork like timesheets, invoices, HR forms (I-9s) and contracts.

A better digital experience for citizens, employees and government administrators can help agreements get completed faster with less risk and lower cost. Citizens are able to fill out forms, sign agreements, and submit them all electronically, at any time, from any place, on nearly any device. Government employees are empowered with the right digital tools that make their jobs easier. Government administrators save money, while remaining compliant with new laws and regulations.

Three Steps to Going Paperless

Focus on ease of use: find digital tools that can set you up for greater success at every milestone down the road – and for greater efficiencies across your entire agreement process, not just at the moment of signing. It’s best to choose a solution that citizens and employees already know and trust to lower the cost of adoption. Along the same lines, it’s best to choose a solution that easily integrates with existing business applications.

By partnering with a provider that offers a comprehensive solution for streamlining the entire agreement process, both defense and civilian agencies can build a solid foundation for future innovation. The most ideal partner should be DoD IL4 and FedRAMP authorized to meet rigorous DISA and federal standards for security.

Optimize for signer experience: ensure that the solution can help prioritize modernization efforts for optimal efficiency and customer experience. At a minimum, start with digitizing paper-only forms, but the goal should be to make every form digitally fillable, signable and searchable – from nearly any mobile device.

Modernize the entire agreement process: The third step is to modernize the agency’s entire system of agreement. This includes all the people, processes and technologies involved in the entire agreement process – from preparing, negotiating and signing documents to acting on terms and managing completed agreements.

More than 1,300 federal, state and local government agencies in all 50 states use Docusign to work remotely with electronic forms, agreements, applications, correspondence management and approval processes.

One of the world’s largest cities needed to coordinate suppliers of industrial safety equipment to redirect items like masks and face shields for use in hospitals and health centers. Docusign worked with the city’s technology staff to implement a solution. Suppliers use an eSignature PowerForm to provide the necessary information and to authorize the transaction. As a result, hundreds of thousands of items have already been redistributed.

For another large city, the public health agency wanted to maximize compliance by requiring infected people to sign their quarantine orders. For obvious reasons, the city wanted to avoid delivering quarantine orders for signature in-person. Docusign was able to help the city quickly field an e-signature-based solution.

Digital transformation has allowed government agencies to focus on the mission by eliminating manual tasks around signing, routing and filing government paperwork. To learn more, check out the Docusign Agreement Cloud for Government.

1. OIRA. (2018). Current Inventory Report. XML Database of paperwork burden under the Paperwork Reduction Act. 

Retrieved from in October 2018

2-4. Ibid