The U.S. federal government is one of the largest consumers of RPA in the world. In a recent report, called The State of Federal RPA, the General Services Administration (GSA) noted the technology saved government agencies around 850,000 hours in 2020 and that its approach to RPA is rapidly maturing. The report also specifically highlighted five agencies that have had the most success implementing RPA programs. The GSA’s Community of Practice has held up these agencies as models for others in the federal government.
Each agency has achieved what the GSA refers to as Level 4 Maturity (by reaching milestones including 50-100 automations in production, at least 150,000 hours of workload reduction per year, agency-wide processes automation, robust pipeline of projects, cloud platform delivery and more). In the coming weeks, RPA Today will look at each of those “program showcases” for learnings organizations can apply to their own programs that will perhaps enable them to scale.
Our second installment in this series looks at the GSA itself, which has one of the most extensive and mature RPA programs in the federal government. In a recent interview with RPA Today, in fact, GSA CFO Gerard Badorrek noted that the agency’s early success with RPA was one of the reasons it was tabbed to lead a governmentwide effort to implement the technology.
Since launching its program, GSA has freed up 200,000 hours per year for its employees across most of the agency’s functional areas, according to The State of Federal RPA report. And, in the spirit of shifting from low- to high-value work, which is a federal priority, GSA has invested some of that capacity back into RPA, funding a team of developers who are creating automations not just for GSA but for use governmentwide.
In two years, GSA has automated 65 processes and is now producing at least five automations per month. It leads all federal agencies with an average of more than 3,000 hours saved per bot.
From a strategic standpoint, GSA focused on a “just get started” approach that prioritized early wins. This enabled the agency to create organizational momentum behind RPA and buy-in from its staff and across the federal bureaucracy.
According to the report, GSA’s best practices include:
- Adopting an assembly line approach to managing development that includes role specialization, clearly defined process handoffs, and robust dashboarding/operating metrics to monitor throughput.
- Providing ancillary customer service capabilities like process transformation support, opportunity identification, and tailored performance reporting to ensure satisfaction and progress.
- Leveraging a robust program management dashboard to track all automations deployed, in development, and under evaluation.
- Following a private-sector approach to investing in a new technology solution by limiting total spend until it is a proven commodity with verifiable customer demand.
- Consolidating all RPA efforts into a COE model that enhances agencywide efficiencies, economies of scale, and program results.
Part 1 of this five-part series looked at the USDA. Next week, a look at one of the earliest adopters of RPA within the federal government: NASA.