Civilian agencies deliver critical services to citizens each and every day. From healthcare services via Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) to assistance payments via the Social Security Administration (SSA) to the important work done by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in driving innovation these agencies’ missions are truly fundamental to daily life and economic vitality.
Despite the importance of the mission and the impact on constituents, agency funding, including IT spend, is far less than requested and, in fact, needed to deliver on the mission. However, as Jeff Kramer Senior Director, Government Solutions at Reed Tech, noted in a recent interview, civilian agencies are putting the latest tech tools to work to continue to deliver on the mission in ways that not only make it easier for citizens to access essential services, but also improve the quality of service delivery as well.
“In my role at Reed Tech I’m on the frontlines of seeing how IT can make it easier for citizens to interact with agencies no matter where they are,” he shared. “In our work with the US Patent and Trademark Office we’ve helped the agency to build workflow processes that both alleviate the current burden of digitizing all records, and will enable the agency to take advantage of emerging tools like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in the near future.”
Kramer shared in the conversation that he had the opportunity to attend Appian World 2018 recently and see the next stages of this behind the scenes IT revolution that will continue to fuel the streamlined delivery of citizen services. “In the 1990s when I started my career in software development these types of client service development projects were complex and required a lot of custom work, yet at Appian World, using their Intelligent Contact Center platform I was able to build a fully functional customer call center in about an hour,” he shared.
By using a Low Code platform with its drag and drop interface and combining it with RPA and AI, the heavy lift that once fell on an increasingly short supply of developers has been eliminated. “While there will always be a need for ‘hard core’ coders, agencies can move ahead with these projects from initial build to fine tuning with a lot fewer specialized resources,” Kramer noted. “Not only does this alleviate the time burdens of custom development, but it also helps agencies manage costs in these types of projects because of the scalability and ability to automate processes.”
While agencies might be a few years away from fully capitalizing on the benefits of RPA and AI the list of use cases is building, particularly as agencies move more data to the cloud. One area, for example, where Kramer sees an easy application for automated processes is in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. “Within the next five years I expect that we’ll see AI-driven redaction on FOIA requests,” he said. “Imagine the burden on agencies that will be lifted by reducing the manual process of redaction, for example.”
For now, though, as civilian agencies prepare for a digital future and their IT modernization journey the important work comes in laying a solid foundation for this transformation. Identifying the technologies that will reduce the burden on agency IT teams and that can scale easily and are flexible enough to deliver value to agencies in multiple ways will be the key to success.