Robotic processing may now become one of the Government’s most valuable assets, delivering benefits to both the citizen and the departments in which it serves. Unprecedented potential within the government sector poses new opportunities for more efficient processes. As a result, robotic automation is helping departments across the board save time and stretch tight budgets.
RPA PROVES TO BE A “DARK HORSE” IN THE GOVERNMENT MARKET
Since the first deployment of a Robotic Process Automation (RPA) bot in 2017, agencies have seen an exceptionally high return on investment for their projects due to RPA’s ability to replace repetitive work. As an added bonus, its non-intrusive nature leverages the existing agency infrastructure without causing disruption. Meaning, deployment in government-based environments is quick and works immediately once installed. With RPA, cost efficiency and regulatory compliance are no longer operating costs, but a byproduct of automation—something parties of any political party can rally behind.
Government agencies harnessing the power of automation can reduce processing costs by up to 80%, and further accumulative costs can increase that number even more. At the same time, RPA removes much of the tedious, manual labor, shifting the focus of workers into mission-critical work.
“We keep on coming back to the excitement around this,” says Justin Herman, Lead in the General Services Administration’s (GSA) Emerging Citizen Technology Office. “People who are non-technical now feel that there are things they can do to make their jobs better, their missions better by increasing citizen satisfaction with services themselves today, not five years from now.”
Herman continues to emphasize the abundance of processes in government that can be fixed or improved. The question isn’t a matter of can processes be automated, but prioritizing the processes that should be automated first.
RPA: NEW TECHNOLOGY ADDRESSING AGE-OLD PROBLEMS
Public-sector organizations face similar issues to businesses of all sizes in having issues where immediate attention is critical. Bottlenecking, lacking an adequate skilled workforce, compliance issues, and both technological and human interfacing present significant challenges to daily operations.
Another unprecedented issue addressed by automation lay within the workforce itself: millennials. As the workforce continues to change with more technology-driven workers, patience for menial tasks stands at a minimum. RPA’s use in the public sector addresses a generational challenge severely going under the radar. Automation technology isn’t a must for only operational effectiveness; it’s a must to retain the attention spans of the incoming generation of workers.
AUTOMATION UNIFIES THOSE IN POWER AND THOSE UNDER IT
Automation has gained tremendous momentum across the United States government. This includes users like the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the United States Postal Service (USPS).
But these massive departments are not necessarily making all the decisions at the top of the pyramid. The IRS, for example, has employed a bottom-up approach in involving staff from the beginning. Using automation within the department generated a burst of innovation and excitement by encouraging workers to come up with ideas for RPA’s use. Delegating the decision-making across all levels of employees not only helped address some of the major areas for improvement but gave confidence and satisfaction to the workers. Generating ideas across all levels of management aids in emphasizing the indispensable role of humans within automation.
RPA: SOMETHING YOU CAN BANK ON
Applying a similar approach to the IRS, the Bureau of Fiscal Service found automation’s benefits fell into a few categories. The first was in processing time, where it saw an average of 60% improvement. The second was in throughput, where it saw an increase of 30 times, using bots on seven different processes. And lastly, the department noted that agencies could expect 100% accuracy in automated processes.
The GSA’s use of automation helped to free up employee time to focus on training and high-value, analytical work to save time and money while delivering higher value to citizens. Automation in the public-sector refocuses the psychological capital of a skilled workforce to magnify the benefits deliverable to the citizens it serves.
“Our employees have to spend too much of the day cutting and pasting general information from one contract to another,” states Jeff Lau, FAS regional Commissioner, GSA Northeast and Caribbean Region. “RPA lets us focus on contract negotiations, stakeholder engagement, and training to be a more well-rounded and agile acquisition workforce.”
AUTOMATION DOESN’T REPLACE JOBS, IT CREATES THEM
The use of RPA technology is increasing across Government and in the public sector. Experts predict the natural byproduct will be job creation rather than job replacement. Managing RPA within any business or organization, regardless of size, requires a host of engineering, programming, development, and automation management positions. Although RPA can tackle tedious tasks without human interaction, automation requires a dedicated support team to oversee robotic operations. Experts suggest that RPA’s use in these departments over the long-term will likely create jobs while increasing the effectiveness of those already employed.
Process automation will only increase in use in the coming decades. This will inevitably bring tremendous value to both the government and the citizens it serves. Even on a human level, automation addresses blindspots unique to the workforce, as in the case with millennials. RPA has the power to innovate Government’s processes and galvanize its people in unprecedented ways. For these reasons, RPA is positioned to play a valuable role in fueling digital transformation in the public sector.