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Originally published: 2012-10-09 12:34:58
Last modified: 2012-10-09 12:34:58

Office of State Controller launches electronic signature initiative

State Controller David McCoy on Oct. 9 announced the launch of a new electronic signature initiative that will help citizens and agencies save time by offering them the ability to electronically sign documents that currently require a ‘wet ink’ signature.  The General Assembly in Session Law 2011-0145, House Bill 200 directed the Office of State Controller to develop an enterprise electronic forms and signatures capability.
 
After a competitive bid process, OSC recently signed a Master Services Agreement (MSA) with DocuSign, Inc. that allows state agencies, universities, community colleges and local governments to participate in this contract, thereby leveraging the State’s buying power and letting these entities access DocuSign services as they need them.  This contract, which provides the State with a standard or “enterprise” approach to electronic signatures, will give these entities the capability to:
 
·         Automate simple forms.
·         Provide offerings that are secure.
·         Provide auditable evidence that appropriate processes have been followed.
·         Provide forms that can be used easily by individuals for ad hoc signing.
·         Integrate digital signatures with current business processes.
 
“Citizens will find it easier to do business with the State because they will be able to sign forms and documents anytime, anywhere and from any web-accessible device,” said State Controller David McCoy.  “State agencies, universities, community colleges and local governments also will benefit from this 21st century tool that will help them move to digital processes and away from the labor-intensive and time-consuming processes that require a wet ink signature to each document and form.”
 
The Chairman and CEO of DocuSign, Keith Krach, also said that citizens, agencies and vendors can be assured that all DocuSign documents are legally binding by meeting the requirements of the U.S. ESIGN Act and North Carolina UETA (Uniform Electronic Transactions Act).  “Citizens will enjoy peace of mind knowing that DocuSign’s eSignature transaction management platform is safe and secure, as the company and its products have achieved ISO/IEC 27001 certification which assures that DocuSign adheres to the most rigorous security standards in the U.S. and around the world.”
 
 
For the past nine months, OSC has worked with a group of stakeholders from various agencies throughout state government to gather requirements as well as an “Inventory of Forms” that represents the potential quantity of forms that could be automated and electronically signed. This inventory contains approximately 700 forms that constitute five million transactions annually within State government. Switching from a manual to an electronic process can save on printing, storage and staff time.
 
Controller McCoy has notified agencies, universities, community colleges and local governments that this contract is in place, and they can begin working with DocuSign to automate forms so they can be digitally signed.  In addition, OSC is initiating two “enterprise” projects that can be used by numerous agencies.
 
Travel and Reimbursement Form Project
Approximately 110,000 travel reimbursements are processed annually for State agencies using the North Carolina Accounting System (NCAS). Each employee uses a travel and expense spreadsheet which, along with supporting receipts, is routed through an approval workflow. Currently, this is all done manually with paper forms and wet ink signatures. At the end of the process, data is entered into NCAS. This initial deployment includes the automation of the form and travel receipts, workflow process and digital signature(s).
 
OSC will create and manage a template for the Travel and Reimbursement form that agencies will be able to use. Agencies will have the option to add additional information to the form that is required for their employees’ reimbursement to be processed.
 
After a four-month internal trial of converting OSC’s paper travel and reimbursement forms to this electronic process, OSC found the automated workflow was twice as fast in each of the approval steps. In other words, the time to process a form was cut in half.
 
SBI Name Check Release Form Project
Individuals applying for certain jobs in North Carolina must undergo a criminal history background check, which may be a name-based check or a fingerprint-based check depending on the applicable N.C. General Statute. When an employer wants to hire a person into such a position, the employer’s authorized representative provides the applicant with an Authorization for Release of Information (AFR) form, which the applicant completes and the employer mails to the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) for processing.
 
Approximately 20,000 name-based criminal history background check requests are sent to the SBI each year, primarily from home health, child care, assisted living, and long-term care facilities operating in the State. OSC is working with the N.C. Department of Justice on an electronic signature solution to allow potential candidates applying for positions subject to statutorily required criminal history background checks to electronically sign the release form, send it to the employer which can review and then route to the SBI for processing and secure electronic delivery of the background check results back to the employer.
 
(More information about the digital signature project can be found at http://www.osc.nc.gov/SECP/SECP_eForms_Digital_Signatures.html or at http://www.docusign.com.)