Apr 03 2023

6 Significant Ways that Robotic Process Automation Helps State and Local Governments

Robotic process automation reduces repetitive, low-level tasks and boosts productivity for government workers.

Robotic process automation, or RPA, is a technology for automating business processes using robots. RPA is useful for offloading low-level, repetitive tasks from humans to machines, so humans can focus on more complex problems.

As we enter the post-pandemic period, state and local governments are eager to reduce workloads for civil servants and improve productivity. Instead of hiring additional workers and increasing payroll costs to complete the tasks, RPA can provide an opportunity to eliminate simple but time-consuming tasks, freeing up employees to tackle bigger problems.

The U.S. General Services Administration has started implementing RPA to modernize its workflows, saving 5,000 labor hours since January 2022. It expects to save 32,000 hours of labor upon program completion in October 2023.

Here are the top uses for robotic process automation in the public sector. This list reflects present-day state and local government priorities.

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1. Data Migration for State and Local Government

RPA bots can transfer data from one government legacy system to another or trigger data actions in response to predefined events. Bots can also perform validation and deduplication to reduce storage costs and increase data quality.

There is a risk of human error with manual data migration, as people may perform the process differently each time. With RPA, bots perform the action identically each time to avoid errors.

State and local governments can leverage workload automation solutions to centrally monitor data migration and transfers. Centralization is best described as organizing all data-related processes via a single pane of glass, improving awareness and agility.

2. Public Sentiment Analysis Made Easy

While civil servants would need significant time to trawl through social media data, RPA bots are quick and efficient at scraping and processing this data.

State and local governments can use this to determine public sentiment by analyzing civil discourse on sites such as Facebook, YouTube and TikTok. Bots can scrape comments, ratings or general posts relating to government services.

By combining data from multiple social media sources, government agencies can strategize and optimize public services in accordance with the demands of constituents.

3. Data Entry with Boosted Security and Protection

Data entry is time-consuming, and errors can occur when data is entered incorrectly. Government organizations can leverage RPA bots to add data to systems in compliance with data entry requirements and regulations.

RPA facilitates data entry for reports, letters, memos, claims and court records. The technology supports both structured and unstructured data.

Since most data entry involves highly sensitive and personally identifiable information, RPA bots also improve security and data protection. For example, RPA can deftly process General Data Protection Regulation compliance during data entry.

Adam Bertram
RPA bots can perform basic verification and approval processes to alleviate civil servants’ workloads.”

Adam Bertram Author, AdamtheAutomator.com

4. Application Processing and Review Digitalized

When citizens complete forms on government portals or submit paper documents, RPA bots can process and review the data.

Documents that can be processed automatically by RPA bots include:

  • Driver’s license applications or renewals
  • Passport applications or renewals
  • Annual income tax and other tax forms
  • Employment records
  • Healthcare and insurance coverage records

In the real world, this means RPA bots can perform basic verification and approval processes to alleviate civil servant workloads.

5. Automated Report Generation and Analysis

RPA bots use a technology called optical character recognition to interpret and translate the written word into digital formats. Many legacy government reports are the equivalent of a snapshot of a piece of paper, making OCR important in translating documents to digital formats.

Government reports are essential for clarifying details on department expenditures, allocated budgets, internal operations, citizen requests and grants. RPA bots enable automated report generation by pulling relevant data from sources using OCR and compiling reports in accordance with departmental requirements.

6. Security Improvement with Proactive Technologies

RPA holds promise for improving cybersecurity for government entities:

  • RPA bots monitor civil servants’ behavior on digital systems and flag any unusual or malicious activity. For example, bots can deliver real-time SecOps support by proactively revoking user accounts or data access.
  • RPA bots use artificial intelligence and machine learning models to identify threats before they impact the IT network. This is achieved using heuristics; the bot makes an educated guess based on past events and predefined rule sets.

DISCOVER: Why modernizing IT is a top priority for state and local governments.

Practical Use Cases for Robotic Process Automation

The process of applying for and managing permits is simplified using RPA for both citizens and government workers. This includes construction and building works permits, zoning permits and parking permits.

For instance, Sea Girt, N.J., completely eliminated the problem of incomplete or illegible forms, sped up data entry by 80 percent, and reduced time spent on phone calls by 75 percent using RPA for zoning permits. 

When citizens register businesses, apply for pet licenses or manage contracts for vendors that work with local government, RPA bots can approve or deny requests according to defined rules. This frees up staff for more valuable tasks.

RPA bots also cut courthouse administration workloads significantly. For example, New Jersey’s court system used RPA to speed up the transition from the office to remote work and overcome staffing shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jonathan Kambouris/Gallery Stock

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