IMPLEMENTATION OF ROBOTIC PROCESS AUTOMATION TO IMPROVE EFFICIENCY & CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
Throughout his career in public service, Bajinder Paul has gained a reputation for using innovative technologies to move the government forward. Before becoming the deputy chief information officer at the USDA, Bajinder was the agency’s assistant chief information officer for the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s Office of the Chief Information Officer and has held CIO and deputy CIO positions at the Federal Trade Commission, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and General Services Administration. In each of these roles, Bajinder has shown a propensity for embracing cutting-edge solutions to bring about much-needed change.
His biggest and boldest accomplishments have come with his most recent work at the USDA, where Bajinder has implemented a revolutionary program based on Robotics Process Automation (RPA). RPA technology uses computers (“bots”) to replicate and automate routine human tasks, resulting in enormous efficiency savings for the USDA and benefits to U.S. citizens.
Spurred by a desire to shift employees toward more high-value work as directed by the government’s cross-agency priority goals, USDA began implementing bots to manage time-consuming yet necessary functions, such as transactional tasks related to billing, risk certifications, and more. Bots allow USDA employees to focus on more value-added work while the agency enjoys significant cost and efficiency savings. The USDA’s army of bots runs unattended, busily taking care of essential tasks without the need for human intervention. Today, more than 95% of automation is unattended, with an estimated time savings of more than 2,500 hours per bot.
Bajinder’s commitment to helping others benefit from RPA is further exemplified by his support of an RPA training and skills program that helps individuals become bot developers. Thus far, more than 60 people have participated in skills training to become developers, allowing the USDA to augment or reskill the government workforce with individuals skilled in creating value-added automated programs. This summer, the USDA will take things even further by hosting a “bot-a-thon,” challenging government workers to discover and develop bot-driven processes that will positively impact citizens. This event will be the first of its kind for a civilian agency.
Under Bajinder’s leadership, the USDA has become a flag bearer for RPA, which has become an increasingly important technology for government agencies. The RPA Community of Practice, a group whose mission is to accelerate the use of RPA within the federal government, estimates that RPA program maturity grew 70% between 2019 and 2020.