RPA: 'It's entry-level AI'

Robotic process autoation (RPA) can be the entry point for larger AI projects, allowing agencies to take shorter steps. (source: FCW)

Robotic process autoation (RPA) can be the entry point for larger AI projects, allowing agencies to take shorter steps. (source: FCW)

March 15, 2019 | Source: FCW, fcw.com, Mark Rockwell, 28 February 2019

Federal agencies that have begun harnessing softwarebots to automate repetitive processes in their internal operations are eliminating low-value work and setting the stage for wider use.

The General Services Administration has over a dozen robotic process automation (RPA) robots now in its systems, said Edward Burrows, the agency's RPA program manager. GSA is nearing the one-year anniversary of its aggressive effort to inject RPAs into agency processes.

Burrows said bots are involved in sending email payroll reports, interagency billing chargebacks and other repetitive tasks at GSA. A bot named Truman helps new vendors work through GSA's detailed review process. The agency wants two dozen more RPAs by the end of the fiscal year, Burrows said at the Association of Government Accountants' Feb. 28 National Leadership Training meeting in Washington, D.C.

RPAs make repetitive, sometimes-tedious processes such as data entry, more efficient and accurate, according to those using them. This can impact costs and workforce in many ways.

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