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Business and Financial Policies and Procedures

1.3.5 Electronic Signatures

Policy Statement

The University of Illinois System may accept an electronic signature as legally binding and equivalent to handwritten signatures to signify an agreement, as permitted by law or other contractual obligations.

Units seeking to implement and accept electronic signatures must:

  1. Comply with conditions for providing identity assurance, such as, authenticating the identity of the user through university systems or additional levels of authentication as required.
  2. Ensure that the signature and all necessary verification records are maintained for the full life cycle of the record.

An electronic signature that does not meet these criteria at the time of signature may not be binding to the system.

Reason for the Policy

The Electronic Commerce Security Act (5 ILCS 175/25-101) provides that a state agency may decide the extent for which it will send and receive electronic records and electronic signatures to and from other persons and otherwise create, use, store, and rely upon electronic records and electronic signatures.

Applicability of the Policy

All employees with signature authority and units seeking to use systems to implement and accept electronic signatures for internal documents and transactions are accountable for properly executing records, including those using electronic signatures, on behalf of the system.

As outlined in 1.3.2 Initiation, Review, and Approval of University Contracts and Leases, only the comptroller is authorized to execute contracts. Delegates who sign contracts on behalf of the comptroller must have express authority to do so, unless otherwise provided for in policy. Comptroller delegates that sign contracts utilizing an electronic signature are responsible for compliance with this policy. Delegates must ensure that the signature block of a contract contain all required information, as documented in 1.3.1 Approval of Financial Documents.

Units that are responsible for processing contracts may accept electronic signatures from the other party so long as the unit determines that the signature is affixed in a trustworthy manner and presents a reasonable level of reliability and authenticity (Identity Assurance).

For the purposes of this policy, a signature is defined in the same manner as in the State of Illinois Electronic Commerce Security Act (5 ILCS 175/5-105) as any symbol executed or adopted, or any security procedure employed or adopted, using electronic means or otherwise, by or on behalf of a person with intent to authenticate a record. An electronic signature is defined as a signature in electronic form attached to or logically associated with an electronic record.

Digital certificates that are used to process digital signatures and provide stronger levels of identification, privacy, verification and security management capabilities must be issued by the Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology.

Procedure

Units seeking to implement an electronic signature system should assess and mitigate the risk(s) associated with related transactions. Part of this process involves selecting a signature authorization method that provides appropriate levels of identity assurance. Units should consult the system’s Identity Assurance Guide and discuss electronic signature acceptance options with appropriate information technology units.

1.3.1 Approval of Financial Documents
1.3.2 Initiation, Review, and Approval of University Contracts and Leases
1.3.3 What Approving or Signing a Document Means

eSignature at the University of Illinois
Identity Assurance Guide

Last Updated: April 21, 2020 | Approved: Vice President, Chief Financial Officer & Comptroller | Effective: March 6, 2020

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