Electronic Signatures Policy

Electronic Signatures Policy

Abstract:
This policy is intended to promote efficiency in University business transactions that require approval or authorization by establishing the basis on which electronic signatures are accepted.
Effective Date:
8/1/2018
Contacts:
None Assigned
Administrative Category:
Applies To:
Faculty, Staff
Material Original Source:

University of Alabama at Birmingham

ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES POLICY

August 1, 2018 

 

Related Resources

 
 

BACKGROUND 

Federal and state law recognizes that an electronic signature has legal effect and is enforceable.  To increase the efficiency of transactions that require approval or authorization by signature, the University supports the use of electronic signatures, so long as their use meets legal and security requirements.  

SCOPE 

This policy governs all uses of electronic signatures when conducting business on behalf of the University, including all business units and affiliated foundations.  This policy applies to all employees and students. 
 
DEFINITIONS

For purposes of this policy, the following definitions apply:

Authentication: the assurance that an electronic signature is that of the individual purporting to sign a record or otherwise approving an electronic transaction.

Electronic Signature: a computer data compilation of any symbol or sound or a series of symbols or sounds attached to or logically associated with a record and executed and adopted by an individual with the intent to affix a signature to approve the record.

Record: a record created, generated, sent, communicated, received, or stored and signed or approved by electronic means.

Signature Authority: permission given or delegated to an individual to sign a record (electronically or by hand), access specific University services, and/or perform certain University operations, including executing agreements that bind the University. 
 
POLICY STATEMENT
 
Electronic signatures may be used to conduct University business as provided for by this policy.  Electronic signatures may not be used when an applicable law, regulation, or University policy or process specifically requires a handwritten signature.  
 
General
The University supports and may require the use of electronic signatures when conducting University business.  The University may, at its discretion, elect to opt out of conducting business electronically with any party or in any transaction, for any reason or no reason.  The University accepts an electronic signature in place of a handwritten signature in University transactions when a signature is required, except:
·         in instances in which the other contracting party will not accept an electronic signature; or
·        where applicable law, regulation, or University policy or process requires a handwritten signature or otherwise does not allow an electronic signature. 
 
To determine if electronic signatures are used in an internal workflow/approval process, contact the applicable systems administrator.
 
Validity
To the fullest extent permitted by law, the University accepts electronic signatures as legally binding.
 
An electronic signature is not valid if:
·        applicable law, regulation, or University policy or process requires a handwritten signature; or
·        the individual does not have signature authority to sign the record to approve the transaction.
 
Only certain UAB officials have signature authority to sign contracts, agreements, and similar documents which commit UAB to a course of action and bind the University on behalf of the Board of Trustees for The University of Alabama.  For more information, see Review and Execution of Contracts for The University of Alabama at Birmingham and the most current UAB Signature Authority Resolution. 
 
Authentication
All electronic signatures must employ a University-approved authentication method at the time of signature.  The presence of an electronic signature does not mean that the signatory was authorized to sign or approve on behalf of the University.  Appropriate procedures must be used to confirm that the person signing the record has the appropriate authority.
 
The Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration is responsible for approving electronic signature authentication methods.  At the time of adoption of this policy, the only approved method is DocuSign.  Other methods may be used only with express authorization of the Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration.
 
Retention
Electronic signatures and the associated data to validate the electronic signature are an integral part of the record. Electronically signed documents must follow the same record retention as those using handwritten signatures.  The signature and means to verify it need to be maintained for the full records life cycle.  For more information, see UAB’s Record Retention Policy.
 
Responsibilities
All individuals with signature authority are responsible for activities conducted under their user ID and are expected to take all precautions to safeguard their password and files to prevent inappropriate use. Sharing of passwords or other access tokens is prohibited.
 
It is a violation of this policy
  • for an individual to affix a signature of another individual, unless he or she has been granted specific, written authority by that individual; or
  • to falsify an electronic signature.
 
Individuals are expected to report any actual or suspected fraudulent activities related to electronic signatures immediately to any manager or supervisor in the appropriate department, school/college, or other applicable unit or through other appropriate channel such as the UAB Ethics Hotline.    

​NON-COMPLIANCE

Confirmed violations of this policy will result in consequences commensurate with the offense, up to and including termination of employment, appointment, student status, or other relationships with UAB. 

Individuals may also be subject to criminal prosecution under applicable federal and state laws.  
 

IMPLEMENTATION 

The Office of the Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration is responsible for the implementation of this policy, including developing and providing training to the University community prior to their authorized use of electronic signatures.