3 simple steps to create a more agreeable government

In government, processing mountains of paperwork is the bane of many public servants’ lives. It’s time-consuming, costly and inconvenient for all involved – including the citizens who have to sign the paperwork. It’s time for government departments to focus on eliminating paper-based processes. It’s time for them to become more agreeable.

Here, we look at what an agreeable government looks like, why it’s a good idea, and how departments can enact change.

The cost of paperwork clearly adds up

A recent DocuSign report found that, in the United States, the cost of paperwork across all federal agencies added up to US$38.7 billion a year. If there were a Federal Department of Paperwork, its budget would be bigger than that of the Treasury, NASA and other agencies.

While we don’t have similar data for Australian government departments, it’s safe to say that the ongoing reliance on paperwork would paint a similarly expensive picture.

Everyone wants a more agreeable government

Business runs on agreements. Government business is no exception – there are thousands of different types of “agreements” that are signed between citizens and government departments, as well as within and between departments. Printed agreements are a hassle for everyone, leading to errors, delays and wasted paper.

Enter the agreeable government. It’s where agreements are digitised so they can be done faster, with less risk, lower cost and better experiences for everyone involved – especially citizens. And it makes everyone happier:

  • Agreeable government makes citizens happier

Citizens can fill out forms, sign agreements and submit them all electronically, at any time, from any place, on nearly any device. No printing, scanning or faxing. No waiting in line or on hold to talk with a live person. No 9-to-5 time constraints.

  • Agreeable government makes employees happier

Agreeable government empowers employees with digital tools that make their jobs easier. No more hours wasted on manually processing paperwork – instead, they can shift from low-value to high-value work that makes a real difference.

  • Agreeable government makes administrators happier

It saves money by using fewer materials and less labour, enables compliance with new laws and regulations, and requires less oversight. Plus, it’s good for the environment.

How do government departments become more agreeable?

There are three steps to take in making your government department more agreeable. That is, in digitising and automating the agreement process to eliminate all that paper-pushing.

Step 1: Start working with an eSignature provider

If you haven’t already, it’s time to sign up with an eSignature provider like DocuSign. This will set you up for greater success as you delve further into digitisation – and for greater efficiencies across your entire agreement process.

Look for an eSignature solution that citizens and employees already know and trust. This will help to lower the cost of adoption. Also think about the business applications your agency uses today, and choose a solution that is already integrated with them or does so easily. Better yet, partner with a provider that

offers a comprehensive solution for streamlining the entire agreement process, and you will have a solid foundation for future innovation.

Step 2: Digitally upgrade all of your forms

Your eSignature provider should help you prioritise your modernisation efforts for optimal efficiency and a great citizen experience. At a minimum, digitise your paper-only forms. But don’t stop there. Your goal should be to make every form digitally fillable, signable and searchable – from nearly any mobile device.

Even PDF forms could benefit from an upgrade, especially those we call “DINOs” (digital-in-name-only forms). DINOs are publicly available PDFs that need to be downloaded and printed, filled in and signed, and then scanned and uploaded or emailed. While better than an all-paper process, the DINO process is still needlessly slow, error-prone and manual for everyone involved.

Start with the most expensive forms in terms of cost to your government department, and then tackle those most costly to the public. Next, move on to the most time-intensive forms. Finally, upgrade the most used forms.

Step 3: Modernise your entire system of agreement

Signing is not the only step in your agreement process. Think about all the manual steps before and after the signature (or form submission) that waste too much time, money and goodwill. How do you prepare forms and other agreements? How many people need to review and approve them? Can digital forms be pre-filled with the right personal information? Does data need to go into other systems after forms are signed and submitted? How do citizens make payments or fulfill other obligations? Are signed documents securely stored and easily retrieved when needed?

Your system of agreement is at the heart of these questions. It includes all the people, processes and technologies involved in your entire agreement process – from preparing and signing documents to acting on terms and managing completed agreements. The more digital, automated and connected you make it, the faster and easier it will be to get agreements done, and the better the experience for both citizens and employees.

Seize your opportunity

The cost of paperwork is a huge burden on government. The good news is that, by following the steps above, you are on your way to eliminating that cost and significantly transforming the citizen experience.

To find out more about becoming an agreeable government, get in touch with DocuSign.

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