With the COVID-19 pandemic making social distancing a public health priority, collecting wet signatures becomes much more challenging — especially for government agencies that rely on these signatures extensively. We’ve seen this issue cause hiccups in government business processes as regulatory programs rely on official signatures to issue permits, licenses, authorizations, certifications, and more.
Digital signature software and solutions offer a viable alternative, but they present some issues of their own. First and foremost, government agencies might lack the technical infrastructure to collect digital signatures in a way that’s both systematic and secure. There could also be signature regulations in place requiring wet signatures before a document is even considered valid.
With all of these factors, some agencies must still rely on in-person signatures. This does more than simply slow down the pace of work for capable, driven government employees — it also presents considerable roadblocks during a pandemic. Until COVID-19 ends, collecting signatures digitally certainly makes more sense than relying on ink and paper. And even after we return to our “normal” lifestyles, demand for digital government services won’t just remain high — it will be part of citizens’ expectations.
Luckily, this sector is growing rapidly: The global digital signatures market is projected to reach $2.33 billion in 2020, with a compound annual growth rate of more than 27%. It’s clear digital signatures are becoming increasingly prevalent and should be considered during any IT modernization effort. This also means it’s time to clear the obstacles standing in front of digital signatures for the good of government agencies and the people they serve.
Choosing the right digital signature software or solution for your digital infrastructure is key to achieving the above goal.
It ideally supports open API standards so it can integrate with other aspects of IT, and it should have built-in connectors for other cloud platforms (such as Salesforce). Besides this, it must have robust cybersecurity measures that conform to an agency’s existing enterprise-access management security plan. Finally, the solution should be easy to use both when people sign and when administrators manage those signatures on the back end.
At the same time, having the right vendor or partner is just as important as having the right solution. Partners should understand the unique challenges of collecting a digital signature versus a wet signature, including how those affect rule-bound government agencies in outsize ways. The partner must also understand how to approach the situation with empathy and provide a solution that makes collecting signatures easier than (or just as easy as) the current process.
Unlike the private sector, rules at many levels of government specifically require wet signatures. Take permit applications: If a certified surveyor needs to sign off on something, that might require a wet seal or signature. In such instances, an agency might adopt specific electronic signature guidelines to ensure they follow legal rules. Without these exemptions, however, it could be illegal to accept digital signatures.
First, agency stakeholders should investigate any and all prohibitions against digital signatures that apply to their work. Afterward, they will need to successfully advocate for exemptions to be written into law. For example, Florida already allows surveyors to sign some documents electronically as long as the final hard copies of surveying or mapping documents contain a wet signature. This is precisely the kind of compromise that makes a legally acceptable digital signature possible without creating unnecessary risk and disruption.
Again, this is also where choosing the right digital signature vendor or partner comes into play. A quality partner will help government decision makers understand how a solution complements or conflicts with applicable regulations. Beyond that, the partner should be eager and able to help educate employees across the agency on using new software or solution to the fullest.
Kyra Solutions is positioned to help government agencies modernize regulatory programs that include digital signature solutions as part of their internal workflows and public-facing applications. We work with government regulatory programs every day and are intimately knowledgeable about the processes, procedures, and legislation that dictate how they can conduct business.
With this understanding, we can help make process-improvement suggestions to boost efficiency and save valuable time. We also have a reputation for delivering technology solutions on time and within budget, which helps agencies do more with less. Want to learn more about how our solutions incorporate digital signatures to help state agencies automate regulatory processes and other workflows and become more efficient than ever? Reach out to us to continue the conversation.