Silanis captures new federal customers

Silanis Technology Inc. has landed several recent federal government clients with its software product that is designed to eliminate paper by digitally capturing handwritten signatures and securing those signatures using authentication technology.

ApproveIT is designed to enable users to electronically sign with handwritten signatures common electronic documents while securing the content as original and ensuring that signatures are valid only in the authentic original documents. Signatures embedded in the document by the software's sophisticated encryption technology create a single document file with secure, inseparable signatures.

"When you're dealing with approval processes...most people, because of the tradition of handwritten signatures, will readily recognize the meaning [of electronic handwritten signatures]...and act upon it as they would a piece of paper," said Michael Laurie, vice president of sales and marketing at Silanis, Montreal. Customers "need handwritten signatures; at the same time, they need an acceptable level of security."

The most recent federal organization to begin using ApproveIT is the Army's Personnel Command, which this month will launch a proof-of-concept project in Louisville, Ky., to allow Army officials to use the product to capture electronic handwritten signatures of new military enlistees.

The project, which still will capture signatures in traditional written form while the product is being tested, could potentially eliminate a mountain of paperwork, Laurie said.

When a person enlists in the military, paperwork containing his or her signature must be passed to various military commands for additional approval signatures, including the command where the enlistee will be stationed, Laurie said.

The entire process requires 35 to 40 pieces of paper, all of which theoretically could be eliminated by using electronic forms and captured signatures, he said. The Personnel Command was not available for comment.

"Their goal is to...eliminate paperwork and also improve the capture of the data," he said. "If they can get all the data right at the beginning...then that data can follow the soldier through his career in the armed forces."

The Joint Chiefs of Staff has been using ApproveIT since July in conjunction with its automated workflow system to allow senior-level officials to electronically sign a variety of documents.

According to a Joint staff official, whenever the office receives any request for information or any action item from an outside organization, such as the Office of the Secretary of Defense, that request is processed by an action officer who forwards it to senior officials for electronic attachment of handwritten signatures.

The office now plans to extend the product's features to all of its 1,500 desktops, the official said. "It has saved us time and money in the preparation phase— getting documents ready to go in for signatures," the official said.

In addition to the Joint Chiefs, Air Force officials are using ApproveIT for document management of contracts, memos and letters associated with the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System program.

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