County of Sonoma Uses Digital Signatures

Organization Profile

  • Industry: Records
  • Location: Sonoma County, California
  • Population: 483,880
  • Number of Employees: 104
  • Tyler Client Since: 2013
  • Tyler Products Used: Eagle

Challenge

The Sonoma County, California, Clerk-Recorder’s office issues more than 3,200 marriage licenses annually and registers them in a separate process when licenses are returned after the wedding ceremonies. A common process for counties across the country, marriage license issuance, registration and filing becomes exponentially more complex when each task is completed as a manual process.

“Traditionally, the license had an actual, physical signature from all parties: the couple, witnesses, officiant and staff members,” Deva Proto, Sonoma County chief deputy clerk-recorder, explained. “Occasionally, a staff member would omit their signature in error. If a license was missing either the issuing or registering clerk signature, it required research to discover which staff member needed to sign. We’d have to reach out to the couple to replace any certified copies if they had been issued.”

The pilot program in Sonoma County was successful enough to change a long-standing policy at the state level, and the state authorization extended the use of digitized signatures to all counties in California.

Deva Proto

Chief Deputy Clerk-Recorder, Sonoma County, California

The office staff recognized this time-intensive process also carried legal ramifications. Newlyweds could experience delays with updating their legal names and securing health benefits in the event of clerical errors. Proto and her team were dedicated to eliminating this level of risk, so they County of Sonoma Clerk-RecorderAssessor Department, California Department Saves Time and Gains Efficiency by Using Eagle to Apply Digitized Signatures leveraged an important capability that’s built into Tyler Technologies’ Eagle™ official record recording software to solve the problem — digitized signatures.

Solution

Sonoma County used digitized signatures through Eagle in other areas of the office and saw the potential for adding the digitized signatures capabilities on marriage licenses.

“We have the ability to capture digitized signatures of staff members and print them on forms issued by the system,” Proto explained. “It cuts down on errors and saves time. When you’re issuing and registering more than 3,000 licenses a year, saving 10 seconds per signature really adds up.”

Because security was of the utmost importance, Proto and her team used password-protected signatures unique to the log-in of each staff member. No one could use another person’s signature. The Sonoma County Clerk-Recorder’s Office researched the legal security requirements set by the state and determined the security provided by the Eagle system met their requirements.

To help ensure the approval of the state, Proto and her team proposed a pilot program to the California Department of Public Health, the authority for the issuance and registration of marriage licenses. The state agreed to allow Sonoma County to issue licenses with digitized staff signatures while they studied the results.

“The purpose of the pilot program was to ensure that both the county and state were comfortable with the security and the process,” Proto said. “We were thrilled with the results.”

Results

During the pilot program, Proto and her staff used Eagle to apply 3,818 signatures, saving clerks a great deal of valuable time. They also significantly reduced errors by eliminating the possibility of mistaken omissions. Proto was pleased with the way her office had streamlined their daily tasks.

“Utilizing electronic signatures on marriage licenses furthers the Sonoma County strategic plan by investing in the future through enhancing systems to save money in the long term,” she said. “Electronic signatures have eliminated an estimated 6,700 signatures from staff a year. Estimating 10 seconds per signature, that has saved us approximately 18.5 hours of time for the office overall.”

In September 2016, the state consulted with the Sonoma County Clerk-Recorder’s office to gather information regarding the success of the pilot program and the quality of the marriage licenses that had been transmitted with digitized signatures. After reviewing the findings, the state subsequently issued an all-county letter authorizing the usage of digitized signatures on marriage licenses throughout the state.

“The Eagle system’s ability to apply saved staff signatures onto forms improves accuracy, provides better customer service and saves time,” Proto said. “The pilot program in Sonoma County was successful enough to change a long-standing policy at the state level, and the state authorization extended the use of digitized signatures to all counties in California. Other recorder offices can benefit immediately from the groundwork we laid, especially those using the Eagle system.”

“Using electronic signature functionality can benefit counties by increasing accuracy, saving time and eliminating repetitive motion from staff processes. It’s made a very positive impact for our county and state.”

Delivering Advanced Functionality to the Modern Land and Vital Records Office

Tyler’s Eagle records and documents solution has been an industry leader for nearly 40 years. Going strong even today, Eagle remains in the forefront by providing land and vital records offices the advanced functionality they need to achieve the highest levels of efficiency, accuracy and customer service. We help you accomplish more with fewer keystrokes and fewer screens.

By using Tyler’s Eagle software, you can take advantage of the industry’s most advanced tools to streamline the administration of vital and official records, including the automation of the issuance and processing of marriage applications and licenses.

Case Study Highlights

  • County issues more than 3,200 marriage licenses annually
  • Electronic signatures have eliminated an estimated 6,700 signatures from staff each year, saving upwards of 18.5 hours of staff time
  • As a result of county's success, the state authorized the use of digitized signatures on marriage licenses throughout the state

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