The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) is building on its AI text analytics capabilities and creating a new “bring your own documents” web portal that will allow customers without an analytics background to apply natural language processing methods to an ad hoc set of documents, according to an HHS official.

Keith Bocian, senior data scientist at the HHS OIG, explained at an April 13 FCW event that text analytics is a new emerging technology the agency is looking to expand upon. Bocian said his office came up with the idea for a portal after partnering with business owners around HHS to understand “their potential use cases and get their guidance” on where they should prioritize their AI efforts.

“They really asked us to focus on the opportunities in the area of text analytics, making it possible for customers without an analytics background to be able to apply natural language processing methods to an ad hoc sets of documents, and then also identify multiple opportunities in the area of automation,” Bocian said.

“Key for this process was our partnership with business owners,” he added. “They really drove the prioritization and allocation of resources against these different use cases. I think it’s so important to have the mission, the business needs, driving the allocation of resources towards technology projects, versus doing technology for technology’s sake.”

The ultimate goal, Bocian said, is to build a “bring your own documents web portal” that can enable users without a background in AI or analytics to search documents, extract relevant information, and be able to use tools such as “entity recognition and topic modeling to understand who and what documents are about.”

Bocian said HHS OIG is still developing the portal, but it plans to release “limited elements” of the web portal to users in a test environment later this month.

He said the agency has use cases for the portal in the areas of hotline and whistleblower complaints, in addition to the ad hoc “bring your own documents” use cases.

“People may be bringing in an email inbox and being able to understand over time how the content of those messages have changed,” Bocian said. “So, [we’re] really looking to enable text analytics for a broader set of use cases than has previously been possible through the use of natural language processing, and making those accessible in a web portal for users without an analytics background.”

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.