NSW to adopt digital signatures for SMEs supplying to government

Victor Dominello nsw digital signatures

NSW Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello. Source: AAP/POOL/Mick Tsikas.

The New South Wales government will adopt digital signatures across all contracts for its suppliers from July, in a bid to save businesses both time and resources. 

Minister for Digital Government Victor Dominello told SmartCompany the change is expected to benefit thousands of businesses that are currently required to physically sign contract paperwork when working with government via the buy.nsw Supplier Hub. 

On average, using digital signatures is estimated to result in savings of $36 per agreement with the government, said Dominello, who said the system is expected each year to benefit more than 4000 contracts that are worth around $150,000 each. 

“At the moment, NSW government agencies are required to disclose all contracts valued at $150,000 or greater on eTenders within 45 days of signing,” said Dominello. “This means agencies have to manually upload the relevant contract details.”

While contracts with a value of less than $150,000 are not subject to the same disclosure requirement, Dominello said they will also benefit from the adoption of digital signatures and the volume is expected to be “substantial”. 

“Using digital signatures saves time and reduces operations costs, including removing the need to print and physically sign contracts. They are more secure as only intended recipients can access signed documents,” the Minister told SmartCompany

The change will come into effect on July 1, 2022, and apply to all businesses that supply to the government. 

The pandemic accelerated the use of digital signatures among Australian businesses, after the federal government enacted temporary changes that allowed companies to do business digitally, including by using electronic signatures instead of physical ones, at a time when the vast majority of workplaces shifted to remote work.

The federal government passed legislation in August 2021 to extend these measures until March 2022, and indicated that it would seek to make them permanent. 

On LinkedIn, Dominello commented that he “can’t believe that we (government) are still behind” in the use of digital signatures on government contracts.

Dominello said the new process in NSW will be a “secure, tell-us-once experience and will help reduce the paper-heavy process that is traditionally government”. 

The buy.nsw Supplier Hub is a centralised procurement platform that was opened up to all NSW government suppliers in October 2020

The hub has close to 27,000 suppliers registered on the platform, with almost 20,000 of those SMEs, and has awarded contracts valued at a combined $37 billion. 

Businesses can use the hub to register to sell to the government, as well as update their information and view current opportunities. 

More information about the Supplier Hub is available here

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