E-Sign rules open for comment
- By Diane Frank
- Aug 08, 2000
Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act
The Office of Management and Budget is looking for comments on draft guidance
that will help agencies understand and use the new electronic signature
legislation passed by Congress in June.
In a memo sent to agency chief information officers last week, OMB asked
for comments by Aug. 11 on the draft guidelines developed for the Electronic
Signatures in National and Global Commerce Act. E-Sign provides a legal
basis for use of technology to sign contracts and perform other electronic
The act primarily is focused on the private sector because it deals with
business-to-business and business-to-consumer transactions. Electronic transactions
within government are already covered by the Government Paperwork Elimination
However, under E-Sign, agencies will have to update regulations to indicate
that private parties must retain records electronically. Also, several agencies — including the Commerce, Treasury and Justice departments — deal with transactions
governed by E-Sign. These agencies already have already worked with OMB
to develop the draft guidance.
OMB wants to issue the guidance before the law takes effect Oct. 1, 2000;
related government requirements, such as the records-retention regulations,
kick in during 2001.
"Because these effective dates are very near at hand, agencies must begin
now to take steps necessary to implement the law," OMB director Jacob Lew
wrote in the draft guidelines. "Failure to immediately update requirements
could result in significant consequences for an agency; for example, if
an agency has a record-retention requirement but fails to update this requirement,
it may hinder the ability of auditors and [inspector generals] to access
The guidance includes three parts:
* General overview and explanation of how E-Sign relates to federal agencies.
* Suggested steps for agencies' implementation of E-Sign.
* Ensuring agency compliance with the statutory requirements of E-Sign.
OMB is also working with the Regulatory Working Group, the President's Council
on Integrity and Efficiency, and the CFO and the Procurement Executive Councils
to hone the draft before issuing final guidelines.