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Department of Agriculture

Digital Signatures

On August 27, 2004, President Bush signed Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12). The directive required each agency to issues “smart cards” to its employees and contractors. Each “smart card” carries four Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) Certificates, one of which is a digital signature. To date most agencies have not updated regulations to include the use of digital signatures on documents. Since many agencies are using digital transmission of documents in conjunction with regular mail this forces employees to print, sign in ink, scan, email, and mail documents. By requiring agencies to update regulations to show which documents can be digitally signed with PKI Certificates, this would reduce paper and toner costs because fewer hard copies would have to be printed, mailing costs because we would not have to mail original signatures, equipment costs because fewer scanners would be required, and increase productivity because less time would be spent scanning and preparing mailings for original signature documents. Furthermore, this would support the National Archives' Electronic Records Archives initiative, the Green Government Initiative by reducing the amount overall paper used by an agency, and the telework initiative by making documents more easily accessible.

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Idea No. 6396