NSF rolls out financial management bots
- By Sara Friedman
- Mar 06, 2019
When the National Science Foundation started experimenting with robotic process automation, it ran into issues integrating the bots into its infrastructure. Now NSF is working with the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Fiscal Service to find a way to automate an alerting system that NSF uses from Treasury called the Invoice Processing Platform that sends out emails when vendors submit invoices to federal agencies.
NSF is specifically working with the Fiscal Service’s Office of Financial Innovation and Transformation, which helps Treasury and other federal agencies pilot emerging technology solutions. NSF’s efforts with IPP laid the groundwork for automating other areas of financial management, such as the processing of joint grants or intra-agency purchases through the Intra-Government Payment and Collection system.
Besides help from the Bureau of Fiscal Service, the NSF financial services department also worked with its CIO's office on the integration challenges, NSF Controller John Lynskey said during a Feb. 27 panel at the Association of Government Accountants’ National Leadership Training conference. “We partnered with them and we got through each challenge,” Lynskey said. “We paved the way with the first bot and all of the challenges to run it end to end.”
With multiple bots coming into production, Lynskey told GCN that the next phase of NSF’s RPA work is making sure the bots are stable and creating a maintenance plan for them. The bots, for example, are currently on an NSF dedicated server, but problems could arise when the email system that sends out notifications is changed, he said.
“How do we make sure that things are maintained and stabilized?” Lynskey said. “That’s one of our goals by the end of the year because we don’t want to continue to build and then things get broken.”
Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for GCN, covering cloud, cybersecurity and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.
Before joining GCN, Friedman was a reporter for Gambling Compliance, where she covered state issues related to casinos, lotteries and fantasy sports. She has also written for Communications Daily and Washington Internet Daily on state telecom and cloud computing. Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.
Friedman can be contacted at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.
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