Electronic Signatures

Policy Number: 
Reason for Policy: 

To authorize the use of electronic signature for documents and records of the University of Oregon and to establish protocols that govern the use of electronic signatures when conducting university business.

Entities Affected by this Policy: 

All University academic and auxiliary departments.

Responsible Office: 

For questions about this policy, please contact Purchasing and Contracting Services at 541.346.2419 or pcsadmin@uoregon.edu.

Enactment & Revision History: 

23 April 2019 - Enacted by the university president

  1. Purpose and Scope

The University of Oregon makes and accepts bona fide electronic signatures as legally binding signatures equivalent to handwritten signatures to signify a binding document if the electronic signature satisfies the requirements of applicable law. This policy establishes the circumstances under which the University may make and accept electronic signatures in place of handwritten signatures.

  1. Definitions

“Applicable law” is federal, state, and local law as well as University policy, as updated from time to time, applicable to a specific document, electronic signature, and digital signature.

“Document” is any instrument, document, electronic communication, contract, grant, record, or other official act, agreement, or transaction of the University regardless of whether it is created or maintained electronically or physically.

“Electronic record” is a document created, generated, sent, communicated, received, or stored through electronic means.

“Electronic signature” is an electronic mark, sound, process, or other symbol attached to or logically associated with a contract or other electronic record. It must demonstrate an individual’s intent to execute or adopt the electronic record.

  1. Electronic Signature Policy
    1. Scope of Policy
      1. This policy applies to all University employees, officers, agents, and other individuals representing the University.
      1. This policy governs all use of electronic signatures with respect to all University documents.
    1. Authorization to Use Electronic Signature
      1. The University authorizes its employees to make, accept, and use electronic signatures to the extent permitted by applicable law.
      1. A University document executed by electronic signature by an authorized representative of the University is a valid and binding signature to the same extent as a handwritten signature. This policy does not supersede any requirement of applicable law to obtain a handwritten signature in specific circumstances.
      1. The University reserves the right to designate specific University transactions that must be conducted through electronic transactions, maintained as electronic records, or signed by electronic signature.
      1. Any individual executing a document by electronic signature on behalf of the University must be authorized to sign documents on behalf of the University to the same extent required for documents executed by handwritten signature as described in University policy.
      1. Any document executed by electronic signature without authorization is subject to the same rules and processes as all other unauthorized agreements under applicable law.
    1. Electronic Signature Advisory Committee
      1. The University will establish an Electronic Signature Advisory Committee that will develop electronic signature and digital signature requirements, authorized methods, and authorized software for use by University employees (the “E-signature Procedures”). The Electronic Signature Advisory Committee will submit the E-signature Procedures, and any subsequent updated thereto, to the Vice President for Finance and Administration for final approval.
      1. The Electronic Signature Advisory Committee will include the University’s Records Manager, the Chief Information Security Officer, other representatives of the University’s Information Services department (“IS”), Purchasing and Contracting Services department (“PCS”), Business Affairs department (“BA”), Design and Construction department (“DC”), and other departments as necessary or beneficial.
      1. Authorized employees executing an agreement using an electronic signature method must comply with all requirements established under the authority granted by this policy, including use of approved methods and software.
    1. Selection of Appropriate Level of Electronic Signature Methods
      1. The E-signature Procedures will establish varying levels of security, identity authentication, document authentication, and sophistication for electronic signature required for documents signed by electronic signature. This includes, but is not limited to, the degree of confidence regarding (1) the ability to accurately attribute the document or electronic signatures to the individuals that created them, (2) the authenticity and integrity of the document, and (3) the demonstration of the signatories’ intent to sign the document.
      1. The E-signature Procedures will establish the appropriate level security, identity authentication, document authentication, and sophistication of electronic and digital signature required for each category of University documents based on the following considerations: (1) the value of the document, (2) the importance and sensitivity of the document, (3) whether notary is required, (4) the subject matter of the document, and (5) any other relevant information.
      1. The E-signature Procedures will establish electronic signature requirements, methods, and software based on the following considerations: (a) requirements of applicable law, including, but not limited to, requirements of the Oregon Revised Statutes and Oregon Administrative Rules, requirements of the Oregon Department of Administrative Services and Information Resources Management Services Division, guidance published by the United States Office of Management and Budget, and the guidance published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (e.g., Digital Signature Standard); (b) best industry practices; (c) flexibility; (d) scalability; (e) cost; (f) efficiency; (g) ease of use; (h) effectiveness; and (i) any other relevant information.
      1. The Chief Procurement Officer may, when necessary, after consultation with University stakeholders and consideration of all the circumstances and available options, authorize individuals signing a document on behalf of the University to use an alternative method or software for executing a document by electronic signature.
    1. Storage of Documents Containing Electronic Signatures
      1. All documents executed by electronic signature must be maintained in a manner that ensures that the document accurately reflects the agreement between the signers and can be reproduced when necessary.
      1. Documents executed by electronic signature will be kept in accordance with the University’s general record retention policies and procedures.
      1. Creating and retaining documents with electronic signatures meets all requirements for preservation of documents with handwritten signatures to the extent permitted by applicable law.
    1. Exceptions to Use of Electronic Signature

Unless otherwise determined by the Electronic Signature Advisory Committee, electronic signatures may not be used for: (1) any document that requires a notarized signature, (2) any purchase or sale of real property, (3) any contract that exceeds $5,000,000 in total value, and (4) and other document that may not be signed by electronic signature under applicable law.

  • Volume IV: Finance, Administration and Infrastructure
  • Chapter 4: Business affairs
Original Source: 
UO Policy Statement