Administration Policies

VI-99.04(A)

UMB Policy Regarding Electronic Signatures

Administration   |   Approved October 1, 2020


Responsible VP/AVP

Dawn M. Rhodes, MBA


Revision History

Approved October 1, 2020.


Policy Statement

I. Introduction

This Policy establishes the requirements for the use of electronic signatures (e-signatures) in lieu of handwritten signatures in connection with execution of documents used to conduct official University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) activities. This Policy is intended to promote efficiency and security for internal approvals and to facilitate the conduct of business between UMB and other parties.

II. Applicability

This Policy applies to all uses of e-signatures in connection with official UMB contracts and other documents.

This Policy does not mandate the use of e-signatures or otherwise limit the ability of UMB personnel to conduct transactions with handwritten signatures on paper documents.

This Policy does not apply to facsimile signatures used on checks issued by UMB. This Policy also does not apply to contracts or other documents in which a handwritten signature on a paper record is required to comply with applicable law, regulation, or government policy.

III. Policy Statement

A. Use of an Electronic Signature

1. An e-signature means any electronic sound, symbol, or process, which is attached to or logically associated with a contract or other document, and which is executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign that contract or document.

2. Subject to the limitations required by this Policy, when a UMB policy, a law, or a regulation requires that a document be executed, the execution of such document by UMB may be evidenced by an authorized e-signature in lieu of a handwritten (i.e. “wet”) signature.

3. E-signatures are to be used for official documents regarding legally binding courses of action, such as the expenditure of UMB funds or the execution of a UMB contract. These official documents include, but are not limited to, proposals, grants, contracts, agreements, statements, notices, resolutions, memoranda of understanding, and licenses.

4. An e-signature on behalf of UMB is only valid if: it is executed by an individual with the intent and authority to sign on behalf of UMB and to bind UMB; it is unique to the person using it; it is verifiable; the verification information is retrievable and auditable; and the use of the e-signature is under the sole control of the authorized signatory (or designee identified in writing by the authorized signatory).

5. An e-signature that is not compliant with this Policy will not be recognized by UMB as a legitimate, authorized signature.

6. An individual seeking to utilize an e-signature for a UMB document must sign documents using DocuSign. Other software may only be used if approved for that individual’s use by the Center for Information Technology Services.

7. To use an e-signature, an individual must have the authority to undertake the action made by the e-signature. Only specific individuals identified by UMB policy have authority to sign contracts and other documents on behalf of UMB. Only those individuals and their authorized designees have authority to affix e-signatures on contracts and other documents within the signatory’s authority.

a. UMB policies define who can approve certain official contracts and other documents.

b. Appropriate procedures must be used by a signatory to confirm that the signatory has the required authority to execute contracts or other documents. To confirm signature authority, the intended signatory should contact the signatory’s respective Vice President or Dean and UMB’s signature authority policies or other relevant campus business policies.

c. The fact that an individual signs a UMB document using an e-signature does not guarantee to another party that the document has been signed by a person authorized to sign or approve it for UMB.

d. An individual with signature authority may be authorized to designate members of administrative staff to affix the individual’s e-signature upon receipt of specific direction to do so. Each designee must be identified by name in signature policies of the office of the individual with signature authority. The confirmation of authority requirements apply to e-signatures by the designee as well as to e-signatures by the authorized signatory.

8. The enforceability, construction, interpretation, and validity of e-signatures will be governed by Maryland law and federal law (including the Maryland Uniform Electronic Transactions Act and the federal Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (the E-SIGN Act).

B. Violations and Sanctions

1. It is a violation of this Policy for an individual to use an e-signature on a UMB document (a) on behalf of another individual (except when using e-signature as an authorized designee for that individual), or (b) without authority.

2. Individuals who falsify e-signatures or otherwise violate this Policy are subject to disciplinary action and appropriate sanctions under UMB policies, up to and including termination of employment and criminal prosecution under applicable federal and state laws.

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