As the COVID-19 pandemic hit and Americans rushed to the government for emergency services, agencies had no choice but to automate their workloads and processes to meet the demand.
The IRS, Department of Health and Human Services, Small Business Administration, Department of Labor and others looked to automate some of their most important services amid the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak and corresponding economic downfall to make sure citizens could quickly get the services they needed and that personnel could do their jobs efficiently and effectively during the critical time.
But even before the pandemic, it became clear to the federal government that this was the way the commercial industry was moving and that it would have to follow suit to keep up with the expectations of customers and the workforce. And along the way, agencies have gained immense benefits, adding efficiency, lowering operating costs, improving the accuracy of outputs, and — perhaps most importantly — freeing talented personnel to focus on higher-value work.
Driven largely by robotic process automation (RPA), machine learning and other artificial intelligence-related technologies, automation can emulate human behavior with basic code.
It might sound simple, but the opportunity is huge. In 2020, the General Services Administration, which leads a federal RPA Community of Practice, estimated that current automation programs “operating within agencies are achieving roughly five hours of workload elimination per employee. If the government deployed RPA at scale and achieved only 20 hours of workload elimination per employee, the net capacity gained would be worth $3 billion – and that is only scratching the surface.”
This special report — which will be updated in the weeks following its initial publication — will explore the increasing use of automation across the federal government and the value that it’s bringing to agencies, their workforces, and, ultimately, the American public.