While many federal agencies have invested heavily in digital transformation, tedious and rote work still needs to be done on the back-end – leading to budgetary challenges, a loss of productivity and a poor user experience. Fortunately, the rise of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is driving mission success through enhanced efficiencies and optimization.
Some early adopter agencies, like the USDA, have created an enterprise RPA service for the entire agency that automates human repetitive tasks, thus freeing its employees to do more important work and engage with customers. RPA was also front-and-center at the 2020 U.S. Air Force’s Spark Tank competition for demonstrating how the Air Force can achieve $50 million in savings by using RPA-driven bots.
“During my 32 years working in government, I was always feeding the beast of technology, entering data and building reports … over, over and over,” said Walker. “Fast-forward to today, and we are seeing agencies like the USDA and armed services like the U.S. Air Force showing how the state of RPA is strong in the government right now.”
In terms of citizen satisfaction, the value of RPA is not about the technology, but the outcomes that it offers. “To me, the story is about what the government is saying,” said Walker. “For example, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service launched an RPA pilot program that ended up saving $8 million. This savings is being rolled back into Army posts, and air bases, where money goes to services like child development centers, and gymnasiums.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has also reinforced the value of RPA for government. “The pandemic has really served as a catalyst for agencies looking into RPA,” added Walker. “For example, in Suffolk County, New York, RPA has freed up nurses to go home after their shifts, as opposed to entering in patient data. In addition, RPA is being used to automatically re-new food stamp recipients to better serve citizens.”
As a final thought in the podcast, Walker highlighted how there is still much room for RPA adoption in government. “The examples discussed today are really only one percent of a 99 percent problem that robotics can address,” added Walker. “Now is the time for other agencies to automate and broaden the value of their digital offerings to enhance the user experience to be like Uber and Netflix.”
Listen to the full conversation with Jim Walker about how government can embrace automation in ways that fully modernize IT while also better serving citizens and the mission overall.