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Here in California, we’re entering our third year of a historic drought, and water conservation is a hot topic. Every day I’m reminded of the need to do more with less. My community reduced water usage by 27 percent in 2014, and now we’re being asked to reduce usage by a minimum of 25 percent once again in 2015.

Yet the thing about the drought that has astonished me over the last couple of years is how easily city officials, water districts, and communities have come together to face the water conservation challenge. Perhaps a problem that is so obvious and so serious makes multi-party collaboration simple?
As the head of industry marketing at DocuSign, one obvious and serious problem I have observed over the past couple of years is the inefficiency that plagues federal, state, and local governments. Reliant on aging infrastructure, dated systems, and archaic processes, many agencies and offices are in need of a modernization facelift.

That’s why I’m so pleased to see DocuSign and Microsoft collaborating to solve the age-old problems so pervasive in the public sector.

More than ever, city leaders are striving to transform the operations of city systems and raise efficiencies for city workers, engage citizens, and accelerate economic development.

The unprecedented speed of innovation and current changes in technology bring great opportunity for governments and the citizens they serve. Although these are dynamic, challenging times for governments and the people they serve, given the right direction, tools, and partners, the opportunity is greater than the challenge.

DocuSign and Microsoft help governments to transact business digitally anytime, anywhere, on any device, and in a manner that is secure, legally enforceable, and easy to use. Replacing paper-intensive processes and empowering constituents to conduct business through their PCs or mobile devices accelerates service provision and improves constituent satisfaction. And governments don’t need to change their processes; DocuSign and Microsoft work with existing forms and documents, conform to existing workflows and approval processes, and integrate with back-end systems.

Many internal government processes depend on forms and signatures, such as employee onboarding, travel and expense reimbursements, audits, and benefits and retirements programs. They often require multiple forms to be completed, signed, routed, and archived. By addressing what are often manual processes, federal, state, and local governments can vastly improve the way they do business. For example, the State of North Carolina implemented streamlined travel authorization and reimbursement, reducing processing time for expense reimbursements by 80 percent, cutting error rates by 50 percent, and saving $325,000 annually in printing, storage, and processing costs.

Governments want to rethink their approach to mobility and cloud computing. For example, the US government has introduced a federal cloud computing strategy, the Department of Homeland Security has bought into the cloud, and the FBI allows government agencies cloud access with CJIS compliance.

With Microsoft and DocuSign, governments can uncover breakthrough ways to solve the tough challenges they face and ensure that their cities, states, and agencies can compete and thrive in the global marketplace.

Here are some examples:

  • Giving city employees a real-time, one-city view so they can do their jobs better
  • Giving isolated populations access to needed government services
  • Helping entrepreneurs to see their ideas bear fruit faster
  • Getting commuters home sooner
  • Providing the elderly with high-quality healthcare in their homes
  • Using technology to help students achieve more through 1:1 learning experiences

There are also many sample forms and processes that are ripe for automation. These include:

  • Travel and expense forms
  • Permitting processes
  • Hiring processes
  • Employee benefit and consent forms
  • DMV forms and processes
  • Disability program forms
  • Grant processes
  • Compliance processes
  • Inspections
  • Audits
  • Public health programs
  • Social services programs
  • Community college admissions and financial aid
  • Incorporation forms
  • Housing programs
  • Childcare and family assistance programs
  • IT asset management
  • Payroll and finance processes
  • Department of Transportation construction documents

With a goal focused on the possibilities for the future, governments can begin to build on the systems they currently have, easily and quickly. Although there may be multiple challenges we face in doing this, they are not new, they are different. Their scale and intensity are larger than ever before.

So like the collaboration that ensued in response to the California drought, stay tuned as DocuSign and Microsoft unite to quench the efficiency thirst of federal, state, and local governments everywhere.

Have a comment or opinion on this post? Let us know @Microsoft_Gov or @MSFTCityNext. You can also email us at