Enhancing the Federal Workforce with Machines

Enhancing the Federal Workforce with Machines

Agencies can take similar steps as industry to truly benefit from AI.

Last week, we covered how industry can use artificial intelligence to increase revenue and employment levels. Government is using AI too, and though agencies aren’t focused on profitability, they can take similar steps to modernize their IT and workforce for an AI era.

Accenture’s report “Reworking the Revolution” suggests that for businesses to successfully grow with AI, they need to invest in human-machine collaboration and take the following three steps to get there: reimagine work, pivot their workforce to new growth models, and scale up and harness new skills.

Katherine LaVelle, managing director and Accenture’s North American strategy, talent and organization lead, said these steps are transferable to government.

“Part of reimagining work is bringing IT and the workforce together to envision the best use of people and machines,” she said in a statement to GovernmentCIO Media. AI can be assigned roles that enhance human capabilities — but it’ll require a future-focused plan on how exactly work will get done.

LaVelle said agencies can leverage Robotics Process Automation to map out the work being done for simple tasks, like processing a form or application. Implementing AI and RPA techniques already in use by industry can relieve repetitive manual activities, like data entry and content tagging.

So, partnering machines and people with a human-first approach will allow government employees to focus on more mission critical tasks, while speeding up less complicated ones.

For federal agencies, pivoting the workforce includes technologies like virtual agents, so citizens have self-serving opportunities. And as these virtual bots become more standardized, LaVelle said agencies should consider how federal employees can be transitioned to work on more complex cases.  

“By evaluating the work to be done by the virtual agent and by human beings, agencies can group

the work requiring human action into tasks, and then into roles, or jobs for a specific person or workforce,” Lavelle said. She compared this to federal cloud adoption, citing a similar type of transition where certain parts of the federal workforce are realigned to new models and structured for agility.

Harnessing new skills in government would be part of a “human capital strategy” or a specific “workforce strategy,” as LaVelle put it. For example, using augmented reality for training that would otherwise be too expensive or dangerous.

But with all government processes, LaVelle said it’s important to consider agency-specific practices and policies when taking these steps. “All of the above should be set in that context, with the intent to develop and enhance the intersection of people and machines within the federal government workforce,” she said.