The Federal government has made swift progress in ramping up the use of robotic process automation (RPA) technologies over the past year-plus, and has set the stage to rapidly increase RPA adoption going forward, a senior General Services Administration (GSA) official said today.

Gerard Badorrek, chief financial officer at GSA and sponsor of the Federal RPA Community of Practice (CoP), said at ACT-IAC’s Digital Transformation Summit event that the government made “good progress” on RPA adoption from fiscal year 2019 to FY2020.

“Using RPA technologies, 23 agencies across the Federal government have more than doubled the number of automations deployed to more than 450, really moving the needle on RPA,” Badorrek said. “But there’s really so much more that we can be doing.”

“These technologies are some of the greatest tools at our disposal for increasing productivity, and our effectiveness,” he said. “However, to implement these technologies and to complete digital transformation, we need to do more than just flip a switch or install software.”

“Advancing from idea to adoption requires effective change management, having the right people on board, creating innovation champions, and in many cases, process reengineering,” he said.

Referencing findings from a November 2020 report on the Federal government’s RPA progress, Badorrek said that RPA startup programs “are turning into successful factories,” and becoming increasingly capable of creating more “impactful automations.”

He charted broad progress across agencies in increasing the number and sophistication of their RPA projects and said that that RPA “is becoming part of a broad scale solution, not just a technology,” and is turning into a set of enterprise solutions, rather than a series of pilot programs.

Going forward, Badorrek said that Federal government “business owners need to embrace the technology, and business executives need to champion change management … We the business owners need to create a results-oriented culture for business transformation.”

Among other steps, he called for collaboration across Federal agencies on RPA adoption, saying “we are much more effective working as a team as opposed to individual agencies running their own races.”

“This is one of the biggest opportunities for us in the Federal government – to accelerate cooperation across agencies,” he said. “We just need to learn to work with each other.”

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.