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Standard on Appropriate Use of DocuSign


DocuSign is a self service tool that allows designated members of the campus to create and route electronic documents for signature.  With DocuSign, staff or faculty can upload an electronic document and send it out for signature.  The secure signature is performed using each recipient's Cal Poly password.  This usage standard describes encouraged uses of the DocuSign tool for University business, and uses that must be avoided as they create unnecessary risk to the campus.

A. Scope

This document applies to anyone using a Cal Poly account with the DocuSign system, regardless of where documents were initiated (i.e. on or off campus) or from what device the documents were initiated.  Use is subject to these requirements and to the campus Responsible Use Policy.

B. Purpose

The primary focus of this standard is to encourage appropriate and acceptable use of the DocuSign enterprise resource, consistent with Cal Poly's core mission and institutional priorities.

C. Guiding Principles

  • Contracts: All contract signatures at Cal Poly are subject to the University’s Contract Authority Policy.  Please read this policy and ensure that people added as signers to the workflow are operating within their authorization for contracts and agreements. Legal Policies
  • Form Ownership: Each campus form (and associated process) is managed by a campus office.  Do not assume a form may be handled via DocuSign without first confirming with the responsible office.
  • All staff and faculty have the ability to send documents through DocuSign. Use this privilege carefully! If you have never used the tool be sure to review basic document creation information.  We recommend consulting with your DocuSign Unit Coordinator (DUC) before sending your first document.
  • DocuSign is used to route and sign documents, not for long-term document retention.

DocuSign has been approved for internal workflow and e-signature collection.  Should a department wish to use DocuSign with any Third Party vendor/signers, please contact Contracts and Procurement before uploading and routing documents.  It is important to have approval from the third party vendor to send a document via DocuSign.  Please contact vendors prior to uploading a document to verify they do not require the document to have a “wet” signature.


  • Any employee who is authorized to sign an agreement on behalf of the University and who chooses to do so through DocuSign must sign the agreement using your Cal Poly username.  Personal or non-Cal Poly DocuSign accounts may not be used to sign agreements on behalf of Cal Poly.
  • A signer always has the option to print the document, “wet” sign it and return a hard copy to the sender, instead of agreeing to sign a contract through DocuSign. For any questions on signing documents please email
  • Signer should not delegate signing authority to those who do not have authorization to sign documents.  In order to maintain the security of DocuSign and all other Cal Poly services, never share your username and password.
  • Please keep personal DocuSign accounts separate from official Cal Poly issued DocuSign accounts.  Access to Cal Poly's DocuSign account is made through your Cal Poly email address and your Cal Poly password.  If you have any questions with settings please contact your DocuSign Unit Coordinator (DUC).
  • Please read the ELECTRONIC RECORD AND SIGNATURE DISCLOSURE found in your DocuSign account under “PREFERENCES” or under the “MORE” tab prior to signing.
  • Your electronic signature, with DocuSign, is a legally binding signature.
  • Under the university’s Contract Signature Authority Policy, the university official executing the contract is responsible for maintaining the fully-executed contract, including all attachments, in a manner consistent with the university’s Record Retention Policy.  The university official executing the contract also is responsible for maintaining records evidencing any electronic signatures obtained through DocuSign. These records must be maintained outside of DocuSign.  The university will purge any complete documents after 90 days.  DocuSign is used to execute routing and signatures, not for long term document retention.


  • DocuSign senders must review training prior to sending documents through DocuSign and consult with a DocuSign Unit Coordinator (DUC) prior to sending your first document. Here are a list of resources for training:
Sign a Document with Docusign (Video) Sending Documents (Video)
Correcting an In-Flight Document (Video) More Videos
DocuSign Support Documentation S igning and Sending Webinars
  • When creating workflow through DocuSign, it is the responsibility of the sender to verify that all signers for contracts dealing with university affairs or monetary agreements have signature authority.  Please refer to the Contract Signature Authority Policy to verify signing authority.

D. Level 1 Data

DocuSign has been approved for use with Level 1 data.  To limit the University's liability all completed documents will be purged from DocuSign servers 90 days after completion.  You still need to responsibly store the completed documents on campus in a secure way once the routing is complete.

E. Legality

There are two common terms used when discussing electronic signatures:

eSignature is the process a person goes through to demonstrate their intent during an electronic transaction.

Digital signature is the encryption technology containing critical details pertaining to the e-signature.

At Cal Poly e-signature is the legally binding record and the digital signature is the underlying technology that helps verify the authenticity of the transaction.

Defined by California Secretary of State

Under California law, an "electronic signature" means an electronic sound, symbol, or process attached to or logically associated with an electronic record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the electronic record. The Uniform Electronic Transaction Act (UETA) authorizes use of an electronic signature for transactions and contracts among parties in California, including a government agency. One of the most common forms of an electronic signature in use today is the one millions of people use every year to sign their tax returns. The digital signature regulations adopted by the Secretary of State do not apply to the definition or use of electronic signatures as they are governed by the UETA (Civil Code Section 1633.1 – 1633.17).

California Secretary of State has also recognized a list of electronic signature authorities in which DocuSign is a member.

Federal law also recognizes eSignatures as legally binding:

For questions regarding the legality of e-signatures via DocuSign please visit:
DocuSign E-Signature Legality

For information on DocuSign security please visit: 
DocuSign Security

For more information on DocuSign at Cal Poly please visit the Service Desk website.

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