E-Signatures Fueling End-to-End E-Contracting in Orange County Courts

Mary Ellen Power, March 11, 2015

The superior court system in Orange County, California, has long been of the largest and most innovative courts in the country. It recently took this reputation to another level as it deployed an electronic signature solution backed by digital signatures to enable complete e-contracting within the organization. For a long time, the court system was in a situation where it had automated just about all of its contracting and procurement processes, but ran into a huge roadblock when it came to gathering signatures.

This was a major issue as the Orange County Superior Court handles more contracts than the vast majority of state courts in the nation. For a while, contracts were taking up to five days to be signed as they had to be printed, mailed to one office, signed, mailed to another office, sent back to the main court, scanned into the system and filed electronically. Such a slow down at the end of a contract process isn't necessary anymore as e-signature solutions have solidified their place in the market, and the court has adopted a complete solution to finalize its transition to automated, digital contracting operations.

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Taking advantage of contemporary technologies

Establishing e-contracting processes is complex, but it is becoming more accessible as technologies evolve. The Orange County Superior Court is the first U.S. court system that has adopted such an ambitious strategy, but plenty of courts have work to digitize at least some portion of their operations. None of this technology is particularly new or unproven. Alan Carlson, CEO of the Superior Court of California, Orange County, explained that the electronic signature process was essentially the final straw in moving to digital processes.

"Our court has led a number of innovation initiatives using technology to help create efficiencies in time and cost savings," said Carlson. "Prior to adding e-Sign Live digital signatures, we had automated large portions of our procurement function, as well as traditional court functions like court case filing. The use of digital signatures on our court contracts is another important step in that process. Adding digital signatures was the last piece we needed to take our procurement group fully digital, end-to-end, and become the first court in California to have a fully digital contracting process."

Silanis CEO and co-founder Tommy Petrogiannis explained that government organizations have been using Silanis for their digital signature needs because their technology has proven its ability to support secure and reliable electronic signatures. Security is a huge priority in the public sector, and Silanis has a track record of supporting key public sector operations like e-contracting.

Balancing security and operational efficiency

Public sector organizations face a fairly unique challenge in the degree to which they must be efficient and transparent while also operating at incredibly high levels of security. This challenging environment creates a situation in which government organizations need to consider taking advantage of any viable solution that improves operational capabilities without creating risk. Electronic signature software has been solidified as such a technology, and its rise in government has been happening fast.

E-signatures eliminate the need to transition to paper records management processes whenever users need to sign documents of any kind, which can lead to a huge burden. Think of it this way: asking a person who is working at a computer or with a mobile device almost all the time to deal with printing, signing and scanning paper files, as well as possibly mailing them, can lead to a huge slow down in operations. Secure electronic signing methods eliminates this inefficiency without sacrificing security.

There is plenty to consider when deploying e-signatures in the public sector, and we have a government-focused guide to e-contracting to help you get started.