Irven said it took about a year to build the relationships among the partners and get the pilot under way. A joint letter from accessIndiana, the BMV and the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council was then sent to all state prosecutors to inform them about the system and encourage them to use it.

Since the pilot was launched, 2,600 transactions have been processed.

"We're still in the process of the rollout," said Indiana CIO Laura Larimer. "But it's been pretty much welcomed with open arms because there is such benefit to the prosecutors using it."

Expanding Digital Signatures

Though it's too early to quantify how beneficial the program will be for the BMV, Irven said the high number of online searches has already helped trim staff time required to handle such requests.

"That's 2,600 pieces of mail that BMV staff didn't have to open and answer. It's definitely a step in the right direction," she said, adding that once the system has been up for an extended period of time and open to the public, the BMV can quantify savings and could allocate staff to other tasks.

The BMV estimates 100,000 driving records per year will eventually be digitally certified through the new service.

Reactions from county prosecutors have been positive, said Mary DePrez, BMV commissioner.

"They think it's wonderful, and they say they aren't going to be bothering the BMV anymore," she said. "It sometimes took a long time to get these records, and then when they got them, the trial may or may not go on, so it was a time-consuming process."

The new solution has already earned a 2004 Digital Government Award for the most innovative pilot or prototype service. State officials said they will investigate other uses for the digital signature and electronic postmarking for additional high-volume services that require document certification and physical time and date stamping.

"This technology can be leveraged in a lot of ways throughout the state," Larimer said. "We hope to see a use for this technology for certified vital records for our health department, certified child support payments, limited criminal history reports, crime lab reports, and possibly even for RFP bid submissions. Using the time stamp and digital signature, we could eventually get all our bids completely electronically from vendors throughout the state."

Irven sees unexplored opportunities for digital signatures as well.

"So far we've just done an agency signature," she said. "I'm sure there are a lot of opportunities to get digital signatures in the public for people transacting business with the state on a regular basis. There's a whole world we haven't explored there. This technology is simple and flexible enough that there are probably things we haven't even thought of yet."

Justine Brown  |  Contributing Writer