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Landmarks in Paperless Government Legislation

This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent pocket guide, “Driven by Experience: Your Guide to Revolutionizing Document and Signature Processes.” Download the full pocket guide here.

From the federal level on down, agencies have long relied on paper to document their operations. As more of the business world goes digital, however, governments are racing to keep up. Ultimately, agencies that use digital document workflows and electronic signatures save energy, money and time on formerly manual processes.

Despite the benefits of going paperless, change doesn’t happen overnight. The following list documents major legislative landmarks along the way to digital documentation in government:

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980The law was designed to reduce the total amount of paperwork the federal government imposes on private businesses and citizens. This act levies procedural requirements on agencies that wish to collect information from the public.

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 – The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 extended the original legislation’s analysis of paperwork requirements so that they applied to “individuals, small businesses, educational and nonprofit institutions, Federal contractors, State, local and tribal governments, and other persons resulting from the collection of information by or for the Federal Government.”

ESIGN Act of 2000 – The ESIGN Act grants electronic signatures and records equal status to their paper equivalents and makes them subject to the same means of legal authentication. To comply with ESIGN, it’s necessary to authenticate each signer’s identity, confirm that they intended to sign and show which document was signed.

2017 Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act The 2017 MGT Act authorized funding for federal agencies that are modernizing their IT via cloud adoption, digitizing documents and other necessary tools for becoming paperless.

2018 President’s Management Agenda – The 2018 President’s Management Agenda pledges “a historic commitment to moving toward a paperless Federal Government.”

2018 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (IDEA) – President Trump signed the IDEA into law in December 2018. The legislation mandates that all federal agencies submit a plan to accelerate the use of electronic signatures. The bill also requires that all public-facing, paper-based forms or in-person services become available digitally within two years.

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