robot typing on laptop (Zapp2Photo/Shutterstock.com)

DARPA looks to procurement bots

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is looking for a few good bots to help with procurement.

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In a request for information posted Jan. 23, DARPA said it wants information on off-the-shelf options for robotic and intelligent process automation tools that can increase efficiency and expand its ability to manage routine administrative tasks such as proposal evaluation, market research, cost and price analysis and documentation related to price negotiations.

DARPA is also considering integrating robotic process automation into Defense Department IT systems, including the System for Award Management, Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System and the Standard Performance System/Procurement Desktop-Defense. Respondents are asked to provide available information on the software’s security and any interoperability limitations it might have with existing government systems.

RPA is gaining traction among agencies not just because it speeds workflow processes. It also reduces errors and increases compliance.

The General Services Administration has been automating some of its own internal processes with RPA. One application enters transaction information into GSA's financial system for purchase card holders, and another sends notifications when invoices are nearing their due date to help comply with the Prompt Payment Act.

In a DOD pilot, a bot reviewed DD 2875 forms -- which users must complete to gain access to computer networks as they move from one military base to another -- to ensure everything from dates to signatures is correct.

Responses to DARPA's RFI are due Feb. 15. More information is available here.

About the Author

Susan Miller is executive editor at GCN.

Over a career spent in tech media, Miller has worked in editorial, print production and online, starting on the copy desk at IDG’s ComputerWorld, moving to print production for Federal Computer Week and later helping launch websites and email newsletter delivery for FCW. After a turn at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, where she worked to promote technology-based economic development, she rejoined what was to become 1105 Media in 2004, eventually managing content and production for all the company's government-focused websites. Miller shifted back to editorial in 2012, when she began working with GCN.

Miller has a BA and MA from West Chester University and did Ph.D. work in English at the University of Delaware.

Connect with Susan at smiller@gcn.com or @sjaymiller.

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