DIG IT AWARD FINALIST: ROBOTICS, AUTOMATION & UNMANNED SYSTEMS
Automating vital (but boring) back-office operations
- By Patrick Marshall
- Oct 17, 2017
Physical robots that can walk or roll are what tend to capture the public’s imagination, but the humdrum processes in agency offices might offer the greatest potential for public-sector automation. And the NASA Shared Services Center is showing just how dramatically robotic process automation can improve service delivery.
The center has automated the creation of personnel cases in its human resources system for new hires and position transfers within NASA. The bot receives an auto-generated email message when a new action is required and then copies personnel data and creates a new case in the system to initiate subsequent processing actions.
What used to take 24 hours to make it through a human-processed queue now moves in an hour or less, with the center’s employees freed up for more complex HR tasks.
The project is the first in-production federal deployment of Process Robotics, a technology developed by Deloitte that automates computer-based tasks in the user interface layer and at the same security settings to minimize the impact on the underlying IT infrastructure.
NASA is also developing bots to automate funds distribution and IT purchase requisitions, and the center’s officials hope to begin offering “robotics-as-a-service” to all NASA centers in 2018.
Mark Glorioso, the center’s executive director, said accounting, HR and procurement processes, with their many checks and approvals, are particularly “well suited for execution by automated software.”
The new service aims to help all of NASA identify process automation opportunities, develop the needed bots and build a digital workforce that is efficient and cost-effective.
Patrick Marshall is a freelance technology writer for GCN.