Automation in State and Local Government
More and more, automation is being implemented within state and local governments to assist workers and residents with previously lengthy or complex tasks. According to an IT survey of government agencies, more organizations are looking towards automation. Before COVID-19, 23% of respondents named automation as a top-3 priority. Since then, that amount has more than doubled, highlighting the need for modernization.
At the start of the pandemic, one of the most urgent issues that needed to be addressed was the processing of unemployment insurance (UI).
Due to the exorbitant rise in unemployment applications, decreased bandwidth due to the transition to remote work, and changes in processing rules due to PUA, state backlogs were almost 10x higher than normal.
State government’s technological limitations became even more pronounced than ever, highlighting the inefficiencies in processes and adding to the strain on human resources. Several states utilize legacy systems to process applications. Since these systems often involve older technologies such as mainframes, it was hard to modify them with traditional code-based solutions as they could not support a large number of UI applications. As a result, backlogs continued to grow, citizens were not receiving their benefits, and state employees were overwhelmed.
Intelligent automation and technologies like RPA were paramount in solving this problem.
RPA has the versatility to integrate on the surface level (i.e. how we humans do work), so solutions can be implemented quickly, often within days to weeks, without any change to underlying systems. RPA also has the flexibility to accommodate new rules and changing eligibility requirements. This was vital to reducing the backlog because most states’ existing UI Systems of Record could not process newly eligible applications, such as those for gig economy workers. These applications needed to be manually processed, which was an arduous task for employees who were already stretched thin. This lead to the backlog that caused citizens to not receive their benefits.
RPA also provides the ability to quickly insert new checks and balances such as data security, additional layers of identity verification, and fraud detection.
However, although interest in automation has recently grown, fewer than half of the US states have adapted their Unemployment Insurance (UI) to modern technology since 2000.
RPA isn’t the only automation tool that provides significant value for state governments.
Chatbots are another form of automation that can help streamline government processes. These bots can define terms and answer questions while “call back” systems eliminate the necessity of waiting on hold. State Information Data Exchange System (SIDES) in cooperation with the US Department of Labor (USDOL) provides an “automated, ‘computer-to-computer interface’ between employers’ and/or TPA’s IT systems and state agency networks.”
New Jersey has proven to be at the forefront of automation technology within government processes. The state has incorporated RPA solutions as a way to send automated replies through its complaint management system, ACS. Through this implementation, the public is now able to reliably pay their municipal fees online while automation technology retrieves the record and can update the information within New Jersey’s ACS.
Now, automation software can constantly scan the database for newly submitted payments, allocate more or fewer robots to handle the payment volume, and record each payment in order, updating the appropriate status in ACS.
New Jersey chose to automate their complaint management system first as it was their maximum value proposition. The State was able to achieve this integration in just days from concept to implementation leveraging RPA solutions.
The adoption of Intelligent Automation is growing, but there is still a long way to go. Less than half the states are capitalizing on the benefits of RPA. However, one positive aspect of the pandemic is that it has accelerated the adoption of this new technology.
New Jersey’s RPA program “performed a work routine in about three minutes, relieving staff of eight to 10 hours of work time normally consumed by repetitive tasks,” and government workers in Texas were similarly amazed to see that a “task that took eight hours to complete was finished in 14 to 15 seconds,” saving $250,000 per year.
Something else that is promising is that state governments are taking a more holistic approach toward automation. Instead of looking at it as an isolated solution, they are integrating it into their entire technology stacks. States who have done this have had great success as evidenced by these amazing results.
Novatio Solutions has been an integral part of implementing Intelligent Automation solutions for state and local governments. We are here to help at any time.
Contact us to learn more about how we can partner with you to help eliminate backlogs and lessen the workload of government employees so they can focus on important, human-facing tasks.