E Signature Technology for Agencies

E signature technology speed up many documentation workflows, decreasing delays in the review process and saving money on postage, paper and faxing. It also reduces the time required to distribute documents to signers and makes it easier to sign documents online.

A simple electronic signature is a digital image of a handwritten or typed name. These types of eSignatures do not verify the authenticity of the person signing it or include any security or encryption features. An eSignature that is more sophisticated uses verification technology to generate a hash of the signature, and links it with a public key that identifies the signature’s identification. The recipient is able to decrypt the hash and compare it to the public key to ensure that the document was not altered after it was signed.

An agency can employ other verification methods to improve the security of eSignatures, including passwords, two-factor authentication and biometrics. These more sophisticated types are utilized when there is greater chance that the validity of the signature could be challenged.

Agencies should give special consideration to long-term, electronically-signed records that preserve legal rights. These records could require a longer life cycle and it is important to ensure that the record’s integrity is maintained during any upgrade or migration process. NARA’s guidance on records scheduling can assist agencies in determining appropriate retention periods for these records.


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