At GSA, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) plays a big role in how we do business more efficiently and makes it easier to achieve our agency’s mission. Through the implementation of more than 120 automations in every GSA office, employees have been able to optimize and streamline processes, reduce errors and redirect the time that would have been spent on rudimentary tasks, allowing them to prioritize the agency’s highest value work. We’ve built automations that have improved processes in acquisition, finance, human resources, COVID-19 response, customer experience and more.
A great example of RPA in action is the HACMAN bot. GSA’s Office of General Supplies and Services, part of the Federal Acquisition Service, buys and sells products and services across the federal government. GSA employees use the HACMAN automation to process work orders that come in from customers who need help with establishing contracts. HACMAN finds the lowest priced goods and services instantly, allowing employees to then purchase them in minutes instead of spending hours doing the same task manually.
Since January 2022, HACMAN has helped GSA employees to process nearly 20,000 orders, saving almost 5,000 labor hours. In addition to decreasing processing time for GSA, customer agencies are getting their orders much faster and can submit even more requests.
GSA’s RPA Program, which leads the agency’s optimization and automation efforts, is expanding into intelligent automation with the addition of advanced tools like optical character recognition and natural language processing software. These tools allow computers to extract unstructured data from images and documents, making it possible to automate more complicated tasks. One such task is identifying specific contract elements in over 8,000 federal leases so that GSA can update them to comply with a new accounting standard.
These leases exist in a number of formats and document types, have images in various resolutions, and vary in length – some are over 50 pages. Using intelligent automation, the team is reviewing more than 600,000 pages of lease documents to capture the information that needs to be updated before the new accounting standards are implemented in October 2023. Using this software will help GSA avoid reassigning over 32,000 hours of tedious, manual tasks to employees, allowing them to prioritize GSA’s highest value work.
As proud as we are of what we’ve accomplished internally, we also take pride in helping other agencies launch and grow their own RPA programs. Federal employees can learn how to get started with RPA and connect with RPA teams at their agency by joining the Federal RPA Community of Practice by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with your .gov or .mil email address.