Loading...

Officials Say Automation Won’t Replace Humans

November 17, 2021 by Victoria Turner
Officials Say Automation Won’t Replace Humans
(Photo by Alex Knight via Unsplash)

WASHINGTON — Automation will not replace people nor take their jobs, according to two government officials who are implementing robotic process automation programs at federal agencies. 

In fact, automation will allow federal employees to accomplish more than that they could have otherwise, said Gabrielle Perret, director of the Federal RPA Community of Practice at the automation division of the U.S. General Administration Services. Perret spoke during Tuesday’s Brookings Institution event entitled, “How robotic process and intelligent automation are remaking federal agencies.”  

Recently, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services was tasked by the Government Accountability Office to process 7 million pending applications for immigration cases by Sept. 30, said Meikle Paschal, Jr., program manager of RPA at USCIS. When USCIS got the directive, only 5 million of these applications had been processed with employees having to scan seven separate databases to ensure the accurate consolidation of data.  

“We had 2 million left and a little bit over a month to complete it,” he said, but having built an automation process within three weeks, they were able to process those 2 million cases in 90 minutes instead of the typical 16 months it would have taken to do so manually.  

Automation improves the services provided not only for citizens, but for federal employees as well, Perret said. Since its 2019 launch, she added, the RPA Community of Practice has increased to 1200 federal members, representing 65 federal agencies and bureaus.  

“Automation isn’t going to take your job. Automation is just connecting the data and the systems in a way that allows us to make better decisions at the end of the day,” Paschal explained, as it is based on a repeated process that can be replicated to free up federal employees’ time away and allow for critical thinking.  

“A lot of these systems are processing the same type of information. These automations are just making sure that it’s done consistently, so that [employees] don’t spend hours trying to solve a problem that might have been something that was typed in wrong,” he explained.  

This will further allow the agencies to prioritize their tasks, he added, as USCIS could choose to automate processes like the manual transcription of data from paper to digital. This is particularly important, he added, to the government’s modernization efforts to update its systems in its technical and digital transformation.  

“We need automation to bridge the gap” while the U.S. waits for this whole-of-government modernization, he explained. It can be a long-term solution to some processes, he said, or a “very powerful tool that can help you in the midterms while you’re still looking for that long-term solution.”  

Aside from the fear that automation may eliminate jobs, the other common concern is the security surrounding implementing RPA, both officials said. But the USCIS implemented governance that can be repeated and replicated across agencies, with the same security gates and the checks to make sure that their bots were being built responsibility, Paschal said. 

“If somebody were trying to do something nefarious, they’re going to find a way to do it, but they’re not going to do it through automation because we’ve locked down what that bot can do,” he charged. “Bots don’t make mistakes; they do what they’re programmed to do.”  

Victoria can be reached at victoria@thewellnews.com 

In The News

Health

Voting

Technology

July 1, 2022
by Dan McCue
House Majority Leader Unveils Updated Dome Directory App

WASHINGTON — House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., has long been an advocate for using technology to help Congress work... Read More

WASHINGTON — House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., has long been an advocate for using technology to help Congress work better and with more transparency for its members’ constituents. In 2015, for instance, it was Hoyer, with help from his staff, who released the Dome Watch... Read More

June 28, 2022
by Madeline Hughes
Using 5G to Help Protect the Environment

WASHINGTON — What does a threat sound like? In rainforests across the world it can sound like a chainsaw or... Read More

WASHINGTON — What does a threat sound like? In rainforests across the world it can sound like a chainsaw or a gunshot. Thanks to the nonprofit Rainforest Connection, recording devices around the world are listening for these sounds to alert environmentalists of potential illegal activities. Right... Read More

June 24, 2022
by Dan McCue
Hoyer Leads Charge to Bolster American Competitiveness

WASHINGTON — House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., on Thursday urged House and Senate conferees currently working on a bipartisan... Read More

WASHINGTON — House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., on Thursday urged House and Senate conferees currently working on a bipartisan innovation bill to complete their work soon so that the House can vote on it before the August recess. Originally called the Endless Frontier Act, the... Read More

June 24, 2022
by Kate Michael
‘DAC Day’ Pushes for Sustainable Business Models in New Carbon Removal Industry

WASHINGTON — The 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provided funding not only for roads, bridges, and efforts to curb... Read More

WASHINGTON — The 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provided funding not only for roads, bridges, and efforts to curb future pollution, but the bill also made money available for lesser-known innovative technology projects that speak to the harm humans have already done to the environment. ... Read More

June 23, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
Congress Seeks to Update Its Computer Systems

WASHINGTON — Congress is trying to catch up to the computerized automation that is running many American businesses but only... Read More

WASHINGTON — Congress is trying to catch up to the computerized automation that is running many American businesses but only now is filtering into more conservative government offices. A House committee held a hearing Thursday to determine how to bring greater efficiencies into government operations through... Read More

June 23, 2022
by Madeline Hughes
Reigniting Democracy Using the Internet

WASHINGTON — Laughter rang out at the Brookings Institution when an audience question came to two White House staffers: “Was... Read More

WASHINGTON — Laughter rang out at the Brookings Institution when an audience question came to two White House staffers: “Was the internet a mistake?” The question came about a half hour into a discussion about how the U.S. is inspiring a global effort to reignite the... Read More

News From The Well