The use of digitally encrypted electronic signatures (E-sign) is saving time and money for construction contractors and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), and making the department greener as well. E-sign will save MDOT an estimated $2.2 million annually and reduce paper use by 7.4 million pieces a year. Future savings will be even greater.

E-sign is now being used for seven documentation processes in the construction contracts unit of MDOT’s Construction Field Services Division. Rather than printing a document on paper and requiring a hand signature, an electronic version of the document is signed through E-sign using a software program. The process not only saves paper and money, but also enables documents to be signed more quickly because they can be circulated through e-mail rather than put in the U.S. mail.

“MDOT is a leader among Michigan state departments in using electronic signatures,” said Brenda O’Brien, MDOT engineer of construction field services. “E-sign not only is saving taxpayer dollars, it’s making it faster and cheaper for contractors to do business with MDOT.”

E-sign is not a scanned or faxed copy of a handwritten signature, but a secure electronic object that’s digitally encrypted into a PDF document by the signer to authenticate a document. It includes the signer’s unique password and identity as well as the date and time. When a document is signed electronically, the PDF file is considered the legal original document.

MDOT’s construction contracts unit began using E-sign in March, following approval of the process by the Michigan attorney general’s office.

“The savings in paper, printing, postage and time will continue to grow as more areas of MDOT adopt the E-sign process,” O’Brien said.


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