Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Takes Fresh Approach to Procurement

Virginia's Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is testing the final phase of a electronic forms and signature system that streamlines the data collection and authentication process for purchase ordering.

The agency is using e-forms from Edmonton, Alberta-based Shana Corp., coupled with Entrust Technologies Inc.'s public-key infrastructure to process and digitally sign e-forms and reports to ensure they have come from an authorized source.

"We wanted to control data collecting and authentication from the back end to the central database and not have to re-key information," said Virgil Kopf, chief information officer for the department. "Electronic forms serve as that digital connection."

Before secure e-forms were developed, most of the department's paperwork was processed using postal mail and had to be entered twice -- first manually and then electronically.

Now, purchase requests can be filled out online by a game warden or biologist and e-mailed with a digital signature attached to a supervisor for approval. Then the request is forwarded to the purchasing and invoice departments. Finally, a confirmation notice is sent back to the original source.

The whole process is secure and can be completed within a week, where the old system took twice the time because of the mailing of documents from person to person. The e-signature technology allows for "total authentication" of the data, Kopf said, alleviating concerns of department employees that reports could easily be manipulated in traditional word processing or spreadsheet form.

The system will be accessible to more than 600 employees and officially go live Oct. 1, about the same time that some law enforcement applications should also be in place. The department handles all freshwater boating regulations, so boating incident reporting also will go online.

"There are 15-20 law enforcement forms, and they are finalizing the e-forms so that incidents can be reported and filed securely from remote locations," Kopf said. "There will be no data entry involved anymore, and we're working with the Coast Guard, which is trying to establish a national database for that information."

Entrust currently has more than 10 similar contracts in the works with other state and local agencies interested in converting from a paper-based environment to e-forms and digital signatures, said Bob Heard, senior vice president of business development for Plano, Texas-based Entrust.

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