Insight by Automation Anywhere

RPA, AI opens the door wider for agencies to reduce improper payments

The most recent update from the Office of Management and Budget on the President’s Management Agenda shows just how automation is taking hold in the government.

OMB says out of the more than100 initiatives under the leaner government portion of the PMA, the 24 civilian CFO Act agencies reported 30 projects using robotics process automation, artificial intelligence or other innovative software.

And agency financial management offices are right in the middle of this transformation.

For example, the Department of Housing and Urban Development used RPA to improve financial controls and reduce the time required to prepare financial statements. OMB says automation allowed HUD to cut nearly 6 months and more than 2,000 hours of employee time out of the process.

The Social Security Administration is another good example. It developed software to capture improper payments and automated a remittance system, collecting more than $1.25 million in program debt.

These two examples show just how much RPA can help CFOs and agency financial managers improve the accuracy of data input and calculations to avoid improper payments and errors.

At the same time, federal employees are becoming more comfortable with the “robots” taking their jobs. The small wins by HUD, SSA and other agencies are proving that when a bot starts doing the remedial or menial tasks, employees are freed up to do other more important, even satisfying work.

Still, RPA isn’t a panacea. Like any technology there are challenges. Forrester Research found primary challenges to using RPA include business case development, governance, organizational alignment, and the lack of a cultural framework for managing automation.

The opportunities for federal financial managers to use RPA and other emerging technologies is great, but they also must overcome these and other challenges to take full advantage of this latest technology innovation.

Robotics Process Automation (RPA in Government)

In our strategy, we do have now a chief data scientist at GAO. We founded an innovation lab and part of that is to create a space to ask questions or take a problem centered approach like a grand challenge on improper payments like how do you define improper payments or how do we put computational systems around that? At the same time, we also are looking at our own business process operations. I think we are talking about a macro shift from a lot of the compliance work that is inherently manual and friction-oriented, and turning more into an enterprise risk management framework.

RPA Strategy

You should start out on a thick client, a laptop, get development software running and go after the low-hanging fruit. Start out with some small things and build up your portfolio of processes, and then you can start showing other people. When they can actually start seeing it in action instead of talking about it [is when it starts to be real].

RPA Impact on Data and Workforce

[Bots are] very, very flexible and versatile. If you upgrade to a new technology or new system, you can modify the same bot to work with that one that used to work with the old version of it. They are getting smarter and smarter, and harder to stump. That is what we are calling some of the AI-infused bots.

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