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RPA takes hold in agency procurement

Robotics process automation "is exploding" across government, according to Joanie Newhart, associate administrator of acquisition workforce programs in the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Federal Procurement Policy.

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Speaking at the Shared Services Leadership Coalition RPA conference, Newhart said OFPP is monitoring how agencies are using RPA, especially when it comes to procurement.  The Department of  Health and Human Services is piloting RPA for the closeout phase of acquisitions, and the General Services Administration is using it to smooth out some of its internal processes such as sifting through data to find unpaid invoices. At the Department of Treasury, RPA  is facilitating background reviews of contractor performance to help its contracting officers with their due diligence in awarding contracts, she said.

Those kinds of RPA applications could transform federal acquisition in only a few years, as they take over repetitive internal tasks, according to Newhart. OFPP, she said, plans share some of its observations on RPA with agencies soon.

The Technology Modernization Fund, a central revolving fund for IT projects, could be used for RPA projects, according to Bill Pratt, director of strategic technology management at the Department of Homeland Security.

"RPA would be a good thing to use the TMF for" because it offers an effective and quick solution for some public facing services, Pratt said at the event. RPA and artificial intelligence, he said, can offer a quicker return on investment, as well as a more immediate modernization benefit for agencies.

This article was first posted to FCW, a sibling site to GCN.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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