Hawaii has embraced electronic signatures and plans to expand the efforts to other areas of state government.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige officially marked a year-long effort to reduce the state’s reliance on paper with the signing of the first digital proclamation. The action was two-fold in that it not only designated Oct. 10 as Electronic Records Day, but it signified the first deposit into the state’s digital archives.
During a signature ceremony in Honolulu, Ige said the push away from paper-based documentation was a part of a larger cultural shift in Hawaiian state government.
“As you may be aware," he said, "this administration remains committed to reducing the amount of paper state government uses and transforming the culture of government to embrace and accelerate this change."
State CIO Todd Nacapuy said that the state’s e-sign initiative is responsible for the streamlining of many signature-based processes throughout the state.
In the program's first month, Nacapuy said more than 2,300 documents were signed digitally, and more than 64,000 unique transactions have been signed to date. In areas like hiring, electronic signatures have substantially reduced the time associated with the employee onboarding process.
“By implementing our e-sign service, we have eliminated much of the time previously spent preparing and routing documents,” he said, noting that the time doing so has decreased from between four and 12 days to around two hours. And rather than new employees spending more than two hours on paperwork their first day, they now spend only 30 minutes.
“The state has a lot of attached agencies that are not part of the main branch …” Nacapuy told Government Technology. “The next step is bringing those agencies in.”
He also told Government Technology that the relatively new tool is currently being used by all agencies within the executive branch. Because agencies use a single sign-on through Office 365 accounts to access the system, the CIO said there were no issues with interoperability among users.
The e-sign initiative also has applications outside of government forms. Two public-facing pilot initiatives revolve around using the e-sign system to allow parents to sign immunization forms, and to allow politicians to submit and sign their campaign reports electronically.
Though more efficient, State Archivist Adam Jansen said during the ceremony that the shift away from paper does present a challenge.
“The digital transformation of Hawaii government presents unique opportunities and interesting challenges for the archival preservation of records, challenges in that the care of electronic records is a far more complex process than with paper records,” he said, noting that paper can be set aside for long periods of time, but digital mediums are subject to changing technology and the ability to read stored information.
Despite this challenge, however, Jansen said electronic copies do allow for more than one official copy, which can be archived while still in use within an agency.