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GSA Tackles Emerging Tech With RPA Community of Practice

The agency’s new community of practice seeks to encourage interagency collaboration on implementation of robotic process automation.

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Seeking to capitalize on the benefits of emerging technologies like robotic process automation across the federal government, GSA launched an RPA Community of Practice last week.

“The new RPA community of practice will allow federal government leaders to explore opportunities, share ideas and collaborate on how RPA can be effectively implemented in their respective agencies,” GSA RPA Program Manager Ed Burrows wrote in a post on GSA’s blog. Burrows works in the Office of the Chief Financial Officer.

The RPA community of practice joins GSA’s 21 existing communities of practice, including for APIsAgile/Lean and MobileGov. GSA CFO Gerard Badorrek and Technology Transformation Service Director Anil Cheriyan serve as the group’s executive sponsors, and Burrows will chair the new one.

The announcement comes in response to the advent of RPA in different agencies with the goal of empowering interagency sharing.

“Many agencies are currently piloting RPA or already have bots in production, but so much more can be learned, accomplished and shared with the collective efforts of industry and government,” Burrows wrote. “The COP will mobilize federal RPA leaders to share information, define technical options and outline best practices for implementation in order to accelerate operational achievements and the benefits of RPA.”

GSA has implemented 10 RPA bots in the past year and has plans to reach 25 by the end of the 2019 fiscal year. DARPA also recently began examining prospects for RPA and intelligent process automation, the latter of which combines RPA with AI and machine learning, building on RPA by enabling bots to learn to increase the efficiency of their tasks.

The new COP will also support the President’s Management Agenda by augmenting the federal workforce, allowing workers to focus on higher-value work while RPA bots undertake repetitive, easily automated and lower-value tasks.

“GSA looks forward to helping agency partners take important next steps to successfully implement RPA programs and strategically position the federal workforce to engage in higher value work to deliver on their mission,” Burrows wrote.

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