Digital signatures still handled like stone tablets

The promise of digital signatures to deliver both assurance and efficiency to agencies’ long approval chains has largely been misadventure. A whole-of-government approach could benefit, but only if ICT creators understand the behaviour of executives and their administrative staff.

Everyone in the business of government knows the pain of circulating documents and ideas for comment and approval, yet we seem to be consistently stuck in the dark ages of hauling stone tablets along the approval chain in order to achieve the goal of that final signature chiselled on the dotted line.

Digital signatures have been around since the early 1990s with Lotus Notes 1.0, yet we still find ourselves in the embarrassing situation of not completely understanding what they are about, or how they can substantially improve our business practices.

Take for example, the National Capital Authority’s Known Infringement Notice Declaration. Its a beautiful and helpful Adobe Acrobat form that shows the user the mandatory fields that they need to fill in, and it also allows a user and witness to insert their digital signature into the form.

In an ideal world the electronic submission of this form would allow electronic systems to extract relevant data alongside the non-repudiable digital signatures directly into an electronic system without any manual intervention.

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  • Carol Daniels

    Vince I couldn’t agree more. Printing and signing documents is a huge waste of time and effort in 2015. Eliminating the need would deliver a bigger efficiency boost than almost any other new technology or technology enhancement.
    Why does it fail? Or not even get off the ground in funding bids?
    I don’t know the answers to those two questions, but think it’s not quite sexy enough to grab the attention of enough decision makers.

  • Shahbahraz

    Lack of joined up processes, and key players who like the comfort of paper and the same sort of signatures they used when they started working, many years ago…