Bill James, Deputy Assistant Secretary for DevOps at the Department of Veterans Affairs, discussed the use and impact of robotic process automation (RPA) technology on Nov. 20, and spoke in favor of vesting practical management of RPA applications with the line employees whose jobs the technology will impact the most.

Speaking at an event organized by ACT-IAC, James said that VA is undertaking RPA pilots to ease the manual workload – including data-entry tasks – of what he called “very paper-centric systems.”  The goal of the pilots, he said, is to “deal with your huge boxes of paper” and to cut down on manual data-entry tasks.

To accomplish those goals, he recommended giving the RPA management tasks “to the people now doing the data entry” work. The result, he said, “they are empowered . . . it changes the dynamic.”

James also said he was retiring from the VA in two weeks, and described his current position as “the most fulfilling assignment ever.”  He added, “if you a mission that is fulfilling, come to VA.”

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