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County Continues to Improve E-Signature and Related Processes

What started as a pilot to automate Alameda County’s polling place contracts has expanded to all county departments.

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When Alameda County’s chief information officer and registrar of voters were ready to modernize the contracting process for voting space, the Information Technology Department (ITD) turned to DocuSign for an e-Signature API.

All departments now have reduced traditional paperwork and turnaround time, and ITD said it keeps end user needs at the planning forefront. Juggling of paperwork and binder organization are mostly a thing of the past, Howard Hill, an ITD manager, told Industry Insider – California in an interview.

About 900 polling places needed to be secured, Hill said, which could mean delays in getting the proper documents filed. The leases – on paper – had to be mailed and managed, while people needed reminders to sign and return.

“That’s a lot of paperwork to keep track of: Who’s sent it back, who hasn’t sent it back,” Hill said. “DocuSign was the perfect solution.”

About nine ITD staffers, including Mike Pacheco and Laura Busuioc, stood up the system and in turn have seen at least an 80 percent paper savings in support of the county’s accessible-infrastructure goals.

With the DocuSign solution and associated processes, contracts are sent electronically, e-signatures are collected and databases are updated to reflect what needs follow-up.

Likely the most impactful improvement is the process for authorized approvers, which moved from hard copy to digital, creating efficiencies and eliminating a system of binders and forms.

Alameda County, which has about 21 departments and more than 10,000 employees, now can track approvers, approver expiration dates and documentation across every department.

“It’s obviously a bottleneck when you get your organization as big as we are now,” Pacheco said. “All these authorizations would come in as sheets of paper and go into these binders that just got bigger and bigger and harder and harder to search.”

The signature authority is good for two years, and with people moves and new hires, the expiration adds another layer to difficulty of paper tracking. With integrations, departments can run reports quickly to show what needs updates and recapture signatures or capture new signatures.

The county “developed DocuSign interfaces in an open and configurable way that can help multiple departments at the same time with minimal configuration,” according to a published API case study.

“We have it set up so that the person filling it out can do 10 employees at the same time, and the department only has to sign once,” Pacheco said. “We’re about to release a new version in which they could do even more if they wanted to. The sky’s the limit. We always want to have our department heads signing as few things as possible.”

Departments can customize their own forms and branding, as a result of Busuioc’s work.

Hill said that customizable forms “allow the department to put their own branding on, use their own form and do all the configuration pretty simply themselves, so they don’t need to engage our department to build anything for them. They can literally roll something out in a matter of a day.”

Pandemic response and work from home accelerated adoption by 300 percent, according to a 2021 recommendation to renew, and the e-signature projects directly tie into the Alameda County Virtual First planning.

Streamlined processes include:
  • Maintaining an authorized approvers/signatures database
  • Allowing residents to appeal property assessments
  • Managing internal charitable giving campaigns
  • Granting of marriage licenses
  • Managing contracts and leases

The county’s end-to-end solution connects the DocuSign API while also:
  • Being customized to various departments
  • Giving the ability to create site admins
  • Offering search capability
  • Storing digital document copies
  • Running reports

Integrations include:

Hill said that “the savings in time, those leases that the registrar of voters would send out via mail – I think something like 80 percent of them came back within 24 hours because it's all instantaneous.”

“The whole process was automated end to end.”

A DocuSign dashboard reflects how much energy and resources have been saved over the years, supporting the county’s accessible infrastructure goal as part of Vision 2026.
Rae D. DeShong is a Dallas-based e.Republic staff writer and has worked at The Dallas Morning News and as a community college administrator.