IBM Cloud Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Stefan Bernbo

Blog Post

The 12-year-old E-SIGN Law and Obama’s New Digital Government Strategy

Today’s amazing mix of cloud computing, ever-smarter mobile devices, and collaboration tools is changing the consumer landscape.

On May 23, 2012, almost 12 years to the day the federal ESIGN Act was passed, President Obama unveiled his administration's new digital government strategy, saying "...the need to deliver better services to customers at a lower cost-whether an agency is supporting the warfighter overseas, a teacher seeking classroom resources or a family figuring out how to pay for college-is pushing every level of government to look for new solutions. Today's amazing mix of cloud computing, ever-smarter mobile devices, and collaboration tools is changing the consumer landscape...new expectations require the Federal Government to be ready to deliver and receive digital information and services anytime, anywhere and on any device. It must do so safely, securely, and with fewer resources."

Ten years ago, government was a paper-intensive machine adopting e-signatures as a means to cut costs. The focus on cost reduction and paperless initiatives evolved into a drive to automate and achieve straight through processing. Today, government seeks to transform service delivery to citizens, external partners, other agencies and all levels of personnel. Mobility is taking on importance. From civil servants to soldiers, people have multiple mobile devices, both personal and government-issued, and they want to be able to use them for everything from renewing a driver's license to filing their taxes. Soldiers want to be able to complete processes such as munitions requests in the field. Senior officers within DoD are now carrying iPads around. The world has changed.

How do e-signatures fit in?

Mobile devices are creating new opportunities to automate signing transactions. With an enterprise e-signature platform, mobile devices can be used to:

  • Equip the war fighter to complete time sensitive processes electronically in the arena by e-signing on a web-enabled tablet instead of a heavy laptop. And since Internet connectivity is not always available, Silanis' new mobile application supports both connected and disconnected operations - e-signed transactions can be downloaded onto mobile devices so that processes can be completed offline and as soon as a signal becomes available, the system will automatically synchronize and move the process forward;
  • Provide civilian agencies such as the IRS the ability to capture additional user authentication and signer attribution evidence. A one-time SMS password can be sent to a citizen's mobile phone. When prompted, that person enters it into a web page. This links the citizen to the transaction, and becomes part of the audit trail;
  • Gain greater insight into operations through e-signature analytics, including tracking through mobile e-signing GPS capabilities where decisions are being taken in the field.

According to Government Computer News, Obama's new "shared-platform approach leverages interagency collaboration to accelerate the move to digital services. If done right, this will dovetail well with a platform-as-a-service cloud computing strategy."[1]

To this point, Silanis has seen an uptick in the number of inquiries related to e-signature delivery models.  We offer the flexibility to deploy on-premises, on a private cloud, through dedicated cloud services or through our SaaS service. Gartner speaks to this point in a report released this month, saying, "Government organizations plan to increase software as a service (SaaS) use during the next 12 months. There is a clear line between the current budgetary environment and the increased interest in alternative delivery models, including SaaS."[2]

We concur. In fact, the Silanis strategy is to support customers from a single e-signature platform, regardless of how it is deployed. Having flexibility in deployment options means that no matter the size of the project or the requirements of the organization, if IT resources and budgets are limited, there are still ways to get up and running quickly to fulfill the President's vision of technology that not only better serves citizens but makes a difference in people's lives.

[1] http://gcn.com/articles/2012/07/16/daconta-white-house-digital-strategy-...

[2] "Market Trends: Growing Global Demand and Utilization for Software as a Service in Government" by Anurag Gupta, Rishi Sood, Gartner, June 18, 2012

More Stories By Mary Ellen Power

Mary Ellen Power is Vice President of Marketing at Silanis Technology, a leading provider of electronic signature solutions. Ms. Power has led Silanis' customer relations and industry marketing efforts since 2000 where she has had the opportunity to engage with some of the world's largest insurance carriers, financial service providers, government organizations and analyst firms. Over the years, Ms. Power has acquired in-depth knowledge of the electronic signature market and its impact in real-world customer deployments.

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