VA signs on to digital signatures
- By Judi Hasson
- Jul 25, 2000
GSA's ACES site
The General Services Administration jump-started the government's move to
digital signatures this week, awarding 100,000 free digital certificates
to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
It is the first major award of digital certificates since President Clinton
signed the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, or
E-Sign, into law June 30 using the first digital certificate issued from
The Veterans Benefits Administration will tap the digital certificates supplied
under GSA's Access Certificates for Electronic Services contract to help
veterans apply for health and education benefits online. The electronic
signature will have the same legal force as paper contracts.
The first online application is expected to be available within a month,
and complete online service will be ready early next year.
"Veterans will be able to complete a benefits application completely online
without having to sign a piece of paper," said Ted Van Hintom, assistant
director for operations at the VBA's education service.
The certificates will enable veterans to apply for such benefits as vocational
rehabilitation, compensation, pension and education over the Internet. They
also will be able to verify their continuing attendance at college completely
To encourage use of the signatures, GSA is paying for 500,000 of them and
will be awarding them to qualified applicants.
"What you are seeing here is that agencies are eager to get the certificate.
VA was first to the plate. That is an indication that they are valuable
commodities," said Richard Guida, chairman of the Federal PKI Steering Committee.