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Management and Budget, dove deep into federal personnel processes to reconcile differences in the implementation of standards. The effort has been underway since 2018.
The NewPay team released its first minimum viable product for payroll in September. More important than that milestone, however, are the precedents NewPay is setting. The platform marks an important step toward the use of SaaS for essential business processes and a pivot to standards-based, governmentwide shared services that replace custom-built, mainframe-based legacy platforms, which come with higher maintenance costs, cybersecurity vulnerabilities, and out-of- date technology and business models.
“It’s huge,” said John Marshall, CEO of the Shared Services Leadership Coalition. “We’re getting away from agencies cross-servicing other agencies to setting standards governmentwide and bringing the best of the commercial industry to bear.”
RPA/Intelligent Automation Services at NASA Shared Services Center
Thanks to robotic process automation, the NASA Shared Services Center (NSSC) has 72 bots that are reducing labor costs and enhancing work quality by eliminating error-prone manual processes at the agency.
One of the center’s first RPA applications streamlined the way data
moves from email to other systems. Because NSSC is responsible for managing NASA’s grant program,
it receives an average of 100 email messages a day from grant recipients submitting their progress reports.
Those messages are often encrypted to protect sensitive information, so a senior employee must find the encryption key for each, unencrypt the information and copy it to another system for storage.
“They literally have to open the email, put it into a system called Kofax, which turns it into a PDF, and then copy it over into our archive system,” said Brian Reid,
a business process manager at General Dynamics Information Technology. The company collaborated with NSSC to create the Intelligent Automation Services Group. “That was someone’s job for two or three hours a day.”
Now that work is performed at night and saves 10 to 15 work hours per week.
The group built the bot in just six weeks, said Pamela Wolfe, chief of NSSC’s Enterprise Services Division. “We’ve
been able to use [RPA] for a lot of various use cases, and we’ve been able to share those with other federal agencies just to generateideasforautomation,”sheadded.
RPA is used across government, but NASA has taken an innovative approach
to operationalizing RPA development and deployment. NASA entities submit ideas for automation to NSSC, which maps a value stream that outlines the steps of the current process, how long it takes and the systems it accesses to determine how much effort a developer would have to
put into building a bot. Then NSSC comes up with a return on investment for the idea. If automation would be helpful and reasonable, the job is added to the queue.
“What we are finding in the automations that we are doing is that they are pieces of processes,” Wolfe said. “We feel that there are opportunities potentially to automate on a grander scale, maybe a process end to end. Also, we’re looking
at what are processes that would benefit usersatallcenters.”
NSSC has been developing bots since 2018 and moved to an agencywide service this year, using a federated model with a virtual infrastructure and qualified service providers to handle development.
NASA has implemented RPA across all functional areas, including finance, human resources, procurement, budgeting and accounting. “If it’s manual, if you can build business rules around it, there’s probably an area that RPA should be able to at least help,” Reid said.
Telework Tracking Application
Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services
The Los Angeles County Department of Human Resources had been looking for
a commercial solution to help manage employees’ remote work — until officials found out about an in-house solution to automate the tracking of telework activities being developed by the IT Division of
the county’s Department of Public Social
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