Automation has a significant effect on all industries and business sectors, including the government and public sector. In the UK, it’s been estimated that 861,000 public sector jobs will be replaced by automation solutions by 2030, saving governments £17B of public sector costs. And in 2021, the White House asked the Congress to approve an IT funding of $92.1B to improve AI, automation, and robotic process automation (RPA). Governments can leverage RPA bots to handle repetitive tasks, decrease manual errors, and improve compliance.
Why is RPA important in the public sector?
RPA has already proven itself successful at improving efficiency and reducing costs in different industries, leading governments and public sector officials to consider it as a candidate to improve citizen services with lower costs and limited resources. According to a Fedscoop survey among federal and state agencies:
- 65% of federal agencies, and 41% of state agencies have already adopted RPA to facilitate work.
- 61% of federal agencies, and 49% of state agencies see RPA as a building block to harnessing AI and ML capabilities.
- 26% of agencies have deployed 51-100 bots, and 15% deployed 101-200 bots.
- Government agencies measure RPA success by:
- Increased speed of service delivery (46%)
- Cost avoidance/savings (41%)
- Reduction in data processing errors (37%)
- 34% of respondents estimated that RPA saved 5,000 to 50,000 hours of annual work time.
What are the top use cases of RPA in the public sector?
RPA bots are programmed to replicate human interactions with GUI elements on a desktop device using computer vision and screen scraping. Therefore, government and public sector organizations can leverage RPA bots for:
1. Data migration
RPA bots can be used to transfer and migration of data among government legacy systems and organization platforms at certain times or at triggering events. Bots can also cross-check the platform for duplicates, notify users, and delete unnecessary data. Bots maintain the quality and accuracy of migrated data as there is no human intervention in the process.
Governments may also leverage workload automation (WLA) solutions which can schedule and monitor workflows such as data migration and transfer. WLA have a benefit that they can run processes across different business platforms from a centralized point, therefore, can enhance data-related processes and ensure that there are no duplicates or transfer errors.
2. Public sentiment analysis
RPA bots can be used to pull data from online platforms about the general populations’ opinions about different public or government ministries, services, or employees. For example, bots can scrape people’s comments or ratings of government services and facilities on Google Maps to analyze public sentiment and optimize the services accordingly.
3. Data entry
RPA bots can be used in government organizations for data entry of processing reports, letters, memos, claims, court records, etc. Bots can retrieve the data from either digital resources in the form of structured data, or as unstructured data from scanned documents, and enter it to excel sheets or legacy systems according to the document type.
4. Application processing and review
Different documents and applications are filled by citizens via government online portals. RPA bots can process citizen queries, validate application data, verify IDs and personal information, and approve applications or route them to different agencies for approval. Documents that can be automated via RPA include:
- Driver’s license applications and renewals
- Passport applications and renewals
- Tax forms
- Employment records
- Healthcare and insurance coverage records
5. Report generation
Government agencies and ministries are required to generate regular reports about their budgets, spending, operations, citizen requests, grants, etc. Data for these reports exists in the form of structured and unstructured documents within the legacy system of the organization. RPA bots rely on OCR to read texts in images and documents, pull relevant data, and generate designated reports.
To learn more about automating report generation, feel free to read our in-depth article about report generation using RPA.
6. Covid-19 tracking
RPA bots can be integrated into government records of Covid-19 quarantine and vaccination lists. RPA bots can be used to:
- Update public records based on the number of citizens who reported symptoms or tested positive for Covid-19.
- Update vaccine lists from clinical records.
- Generate notifications and send them to individuals to remind them of quarantine days left.
- Generate vaccine passports for individuals who received 2 doses of vaccine.
7. Security improvement
RPA bots can be used to improve both physical and cyber security:
- RPA bots can handle data processing, migration, and management tasks, eliminating unauthorized access to privileged data.
- RPA bots will initiate security measures when vulnerabilities or inconsistencies are discovered in a certain system.
To explore how RPA can be used to increase cybersecurity, feel free to read our in-depth guide to RPA in cybersecurity and its top use cases.
What are the challenges that face RPA in the public sector?
Some of the challenges that face RPA adoption in the government and public sector include:
- Concerns about abuse of bot credentials
- Concerns about third party access:
- 63% of organizations need a dedicated third-party partner due to a lack of specialist skills. This could expose sensitive information to unauthorized individuals or companies.
- Lack of knowledge about RPA capabilities. A Fedscoop survey shows that:
- 27% of state agencies reported that they do not know what RPA is
- 25% of state agencies do not know which processes to automate
To tackle these challenges, government and public sector agencies can rely on credible RPA consultants to deploy a proper RPA solution and increase awareness about its capabilities and risks.
Other RPA benefits for the public sector
Government and public sector workers can rely on RPA to automate numerous tasks in both the back office and client-facing environments. To explore RPA applications in those areas, feel free to read our articles:
- Back office automation opportunities using RPA, AI, and ML
- RPA use cases in ERP (SAP) systems
- RPA use cases in HR
If you are interested in RPA benefits and failures, you may find these articles interesting:
If you still have any questions about RPA, feel free to download our in-depth whitepaper on RPA:
And if you believe your business will benefit from an RPA solution, scroll down our comprehensive data-driven list of RPA platforms and vendors. And we can guide you through the process:
This article was drafted by former AIMultiple industry analyst Alamira Jouman Hajjar.
Cem has been the principal analyst at AIMultiple since 2017. AIMultiple informs hundreds of thousands of businesses (as per similarWeb) including 60% of Fortune 500 every month.
Cem's work has been cited by leading global publications including Business Insider, Forbes, Washington Post, global firms like Deloitte, HPE, NGOs like World Economic Forum and supranational organizations like European Commission. You can see more reputable companies and media that referenced AIMultiple.
Throughout his career, Cem served as a tech consultant, tech buyer and tech entrepreneur. He advised businesses on their enterprise software, automation, cloud, AI / ML and other technology related decisions at McKinsey & Company and Altman Solon for more than a decade. He also published a McKinsey report on digitalization.
He led technology strategy and procurement of a telco while reporting to the CEO. He has also led commercial growth of deep tech company Hypatos that reached a 7 digit annual recurring revenue and a 9 digit valuation from 0 within 2 years. Cem's work in Hypatos was covered by leading technology publications like TechCrunch and Business Insider.
Cem regularly speaks at international technology conferences. He graduated from Bogazici University as a computer engineer and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.
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