Hi there! In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore how leading government agencies are using intelligent automation to improve efficiency and better serve citizens.
As an experienced data analytics consultant, I’ve seen firsthand how AI and automation can drive digital transformation in the public sector. This article will provide an in-depth look at key use cases, real-world examples, benefits, and advice on getting started. Let’s dive in!
What is Intelligent Automation?
Before looking at specific examples, let’s briefly explain what we mean by “intelligent automation.”
Intelligent automation refers to combining traditional robotic process automation (RPA) with advanced artificial intelligence technologies like machine learning, natural language processing (NLP), and computer vision.
While RPA bots can automate repetitive, rules-based tasks, intelligent automation allows them to handle unstructured data and mimic human-like decision making.
For example, a basic RPA bot may be programmed to log into a system and extract certain data points. With AI capabilities, the bot could read and understand text in images or documents using optical character recognition and NLP to take relevant actions.
As this chart shows, 61% of government decision-makers report AI is moderately or fully functional in their organizations already:
Many leaders recognize the huge potential of AI to drive efficiency and innovation. Let‘s look at some of the top ways agencies are putting intelligent automation to work.
Top Use Cases and Examples
Government organizations are using intelligent automation across a wide range of functions:
Modernizing Legacy Systems
Many government IT systems run on legacy technologies dating back decades. For example, a 2021 GAO report found some Department of Defense, Energy, IRS and Veterans Affairs systems range from 8 to 51 years old.
Maintaining these legacy systems costs nearly $340 million per year. Outdated interfaces and fragmented architectures also prevent integration with modern platforms and technologies.
Wholesale replacement of legacy systems can be challenging and risky. Intelligent automation provides a bridge to extend and enhance these systems:
- User interface automation – Computer vision bots can read and understand old green screen interfaces. This allows capturing of legacy data without invasive changes.
- Data migration – Bots can extract data from legacy systems on demand or on a schedule. The data can be moved to new databases or cloud storage.
- Data validation – Bots can cross-check data between the old and new systems to ensure accuracy.
The Department of Homeland Security used RPA bots to migrate user accounts from legacy systems to cloud-based Active Directory. Bots seamlessly migrated over 380,000 accounts, achieving a 92% cost reduction vs manual processes.
Improving Citizen Experience
Today, citizens expect fast, personalized service across channels like websites, mobile apps, contact centers and in-person visits.
Intelligent automation enables government agencies to respond to this demand:
- 24/7 self-service – Chatbots can provide convenient access to information and services around the clock. They can understand natural language queries and resolve common requests.
- Document processing – Bots can quickly ingest uploaded documents like license renewals and extract needed data using OCR and NLP. This auto-populates forms and accelerates review.
- Omnichannel engagement – Automation aggregates citizen data from legacy systems in real-time. This gives agents a 360-degree view during interactions.
As this table shows, leading agencies are reporting massive efficiency gains from citizen experience automation:
|Australian Tax Office||83% reduction in processing times|
|HM Revenue & Customs||40% of queries resolved through automated web chat|
|Transport for London||30% increase in customer satisfaction scores|
Automated Reporting and Analysis
Public agencies need to regularly generate financial, operational and compliance reports. This reporting is often tedious manual work despite existing systems.
With intelligent automation, bots can log into multiple source systems, extract and integrate structured and unstructured data, and assemble reports automatically.
Advanced AI takes it even further, enabling natural language queries. Instead of predefined reports, staff can ask questions and get data insights in seconds.
The US Centers for Disease Control used AI to create COGNIANT, an automated forecasting and analysis solution. It boosted revenue forecasting accuracy to over 99% and slashed reporting time by 97%.
Public Sentiment Analysis
Government organizations can apply NLP and sentiment analysis to better understand citizens:
- Monitor news, social media, blogs and other sources to identify trends and hot button issues.
- Categorize feedback as positive, negative or neutral to gauge public opinion on policies, events, services, etc.
- Analyze frequently used keywords and topics to pinpoint concerns and areas for improvement.
These insights help agencies be more responsive to people‘s needs when shaping policies and priorities.
For instance, the Indian state of Telangana uses AI to track and analyze real-time citizen sentiment across channels. This helped it rapidly develop over 100 new public services tailored to addressing pain points.
Detailed Case Studies
Now let’s look at how real public sector organizations have successfully executed intelligent automation initiatives.
Department of Human Services, Australia
The Australian Department of Human Services (DHS) runs Centrelink, a program providing financial aid, job placement services and more to citizens.
Much of the work involved manually processing handwritten forms and applications received from citizens. This resulted in slow, inefficient service, especially during intake spikes.
DHS deployed an intelligent automation solution to reduce processing times. Bots integrated with legacy mainframe systems to intake forms, interpret handwritten data using AI, and accelerate eligibility assessments and payments.
As the graphs show, automation reduced the average handling time for claims by over 95%, from 9 minutes to just 30 seconds. It also boosted capacity, allowing DHS to process over 1 million additional transactions annually.
By freeing staff from repetitive tasks, the bots empower case workers to spend more time assisting citizens with complex needs.
The City of Los Angeles
The LA Department of Recreation and Parks manages over 16,000 acres of public parks and facilities across the city. However, its work order system was still paper-based, slowing maintenance and repairs.
The city implemented RPA to automate this process. The bots receive work orders from staff out in the field via mobile app and automatically create service requests in the ERP system. Citizens can also submit requests directly now.
This automation eliminated 50,000 manual entries per year. As shown below, cycle times for completing work orders dropped from over 4 days to just 1 day. Bots helped maintenance crews be far more responsive.
Source: Automation Anywhere
European Commission Legislation Publishing
The European Commission creates thousands of legal directives annually. Publishing these directives involved significant repetitive effort despite existing IT systems and databases.
The EC streamlined the publishing process end-to-end by implementing RPA integrated with AI. Bots can now access required data across multiple systems and compile directives ready for release automatically.
As shown below, automation accelerated directive publication speed by 3X. It also eliminated the need for 16,000 hours of manual work in the first year.
|Before Automation||After Automation|
|Publication Speed||1 week||3 days|
|Manual Effort||25 FTE days per directive||2 FTE days per directive|
Source: European Commission
Let‘s recap some of the key lessons on leveraging intelligent automation in government:
- Huge potential across use cases like legacy IT modernization, citizen experience, and reporting. Start with high-impact, high-volume processes.
- Combining RPA with AI capabilities like NLP, AI, and OCR drives greater benefits compared to basic task automation.
- Quick wins can be found in back-office functions like finance, HR, and document management.
- But there is also massive value in transforming fieldwork and case management activities.
- Proactively assess risks like bias, transparency, and accountability. Actively monitor bot decision-making.
- Focus on augmenting human staff rather than pure labor cost savings. Automation should make their jobs easier and more strategic.
- Start small, measure results and impact, and scale. Don‘t bite off more than you can chew.
- Public sector has unique challenges like legacy systems, security constraints, and public transparency requirements. Pick an experienced vendor who understands these nuances.
Are You Ready to Automate?
Intelligent automation can help your agency digitally transform operations, improve citizen experience, and enable staff to focus on high-value work.
To learn more, check out our comprehensive guide to intelligent automation use cases across industries.
When you‘re ready to get started with automation, we can help. Our team of experts partners with public sector organizations to build the business case for automation, identify the right use cases, select appropriate software solutions, and manage implementation.
To discuss your automation goals and needs, please reach out to us. We‘re excited to help drive your agency‘s digital transformation!