• December 3, 2020

At a recent conference dedicated to leveraging emerging technology in government, members of a panel on RPA and AI indicated that pilot programs in these areas have plenty of cases on which to test how effective automation can be. Panelists at last week’s NextGov Emerging Tech Summit in Washington, D.C. representing the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Defense Department each talked about how their data-rich agencies could implement RPA and AI solutions.

BLS Senior Economist Alex Measure applied RPA to its injury and illness database, enabling the agency to categorize hundreds of thousands of text-based descriptions of work-related injuries and illnesses automatically using deep neural networks. Future tests at BLS will focus on “differential trust,” technology that will enable an organization to analyze data while protecting survey subjects’ personal information.

IRS Deputy Chief Procurement Officer Harrison Smith said his agency has altered its approach to test piloting AI and RPA. Rather than initiate long-term projects to implement ambitious changes, Smith said he is concentrating on narrowly-defined RFPs for automation projects. Short-term contracts allow the IRS to efficiently collect feedback on the programs’ effectiveness and transfer that learning to future RPA and AI projects.