State and Local Governments Turn Toward Document Digitization

This guest blog was authored by Bethany Blackwell, Sales Vice President, Carahsoft.

While many organizations have already begun moving toward a digital-first future, state and local governments are significantly accelerating efforts to move from traditional paper forms and unstructured data to digitized documents. More organizations are putting down their pens and manual processes and picking up digital tools and automation to get work done faster and more securely. 

Above all, governments need to find ways to connect and engage with their citizens via digital channels. Gartner predicts that 75% of governments will have at least three workflow automation initiatives launched or underway in the next three years; digitization of paper-based processes will most certainly be a key component of these programs.

Transforming a Wide Array of Government Sectors

Some sectors are running at the top of the pack. A few worth highlighting include:

Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies. HHS organizations around the country are using document digitization to transform the way they provide services to patients. For example, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is using Docusign CLM to reduce paper-driven processes during the pandemic. The OHA also accelerated cycle times for and improved visibility into behavioral health documents. 

“Average time from when a new contract was requested to its execution was over 90 days. When we had solicitations, those were even longer – sometimes 200-300 days,” said Mick Mitchell, OHA’s Director of Business Operations, at Momentum 2022. “With the automated workflows, we’re anticipating anywhere up to 80% gain in efficiencies.” 

Other HHS organizations are relying on digital documentation to save time and money that would otherwise be spent traveling thousands of miles to have case documents signed and delivered.

Judicial systems. State and local judicial systems are typically awash in paper that’s used for warrants, judgements, and more. But an increasing number of state and local jurisdictions are digitizing these documents, making it easier for courts to validate and share information. Instead of putting their signatures on a piece of paper, judges are now signing digital documents that are immediately put into record.

Child welfare organizations. Child welfare cases are traditionally manually recorded in unstructured formats like written records and workbooks. But case workers are only human and can easily make mistakes or misplace information. Using digital forms reduces the potential for errors and makes it much easier for case managers to share information about a particular child. That’s particularly helpful when a care team is involved, or when one case worker hands over their case to another.

Internal and External End User Benefits

These examples show the many internal benefits of digitized documentation, including time savings, reduced costs, and the ability to minimize errors and risks. Through tools such as Docusign Agreement Cloud and other solutions, these agencies are reducing the time it takes to process and manage applications, forms, contracts, and more while allowing internal users to focus more on delivering exceptional citizen services. 

Since agencies are not bogged down managing massive paper trails, citizens are able to receive faster responses. Whether applying for a job, license, benefits, or something else, citizens can now receive answers to their queries more quickly. And when they receive those responses, they can quickly sign and send electronic documents back in a user-friendly manner, including through their mobile devices. 

An Essential Component of the Citizen Experience

State and local agencies have long considered digital services a critical component of the citizen experience. But the pandemic proved that digital services weren’t just important; they were essential. People needed their governments more than ever, but moving paper-based documents became too unwieldy. When physical locations shut down, it became impossible. 

Digitized solutions like those offered by Docusign can be implemented almost immediately and used by just about anyone—no coding background required. Existing PDFs can be turned into living documents with just a few clicks, and paper forms can be converted into digital documents just as easily.

While we can hope that scenario doesn’t play out again, there’s no guarantee it will not. We now live in a world where people work remotely and where citizens expect to be able to interact with government agencies through computers and smartphones, rather than face-to-face or on the phone. As such, the need to be able to easily share, access, and process information has never been greater. In this world, traditional paper simply won’t cut it.

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