Rising Star: Meikle Paschal Jr.

Robotic Process Automation Product Owner, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

When you look up “robotic process automation” on the Department of Homeland Security’s intranet, MeiklePaschal’s name appears — and for good reason.

Without him, RPA at DHS’ U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services would still be just an idea rather than the team of bots that is currently saving the agency money and time, said Matthew Graviss, USCIS’ chief data officer.

Paschal is the designated point person for the new RPA Center of Excellence (CoE), which launched in January. The position also marks him as one of the department’s RPA pioneers.

He began his career at USCIS in 2018, when he helped develop the first agencywide data standards and the case management systems to enforce them. That effort established the foundation for his work on the RPA CoE, whose more than 30 government and contractor employees support governance, training and technical implementation of RPA across the agency.

USCIS wants to use bots to shorten the path to citizenship, which can sometimes take years because of repetitive paperwork and overly lengthy processes. Bots can automate some of the more tedious and repetitious, but essential, portions of the process.

The coronavirus pandemic began 45 days after the RPA program started and kicked the effort into a higher gear. Paschal and his team quickly created USCIS’ first four bots to support the agency’s operations and address productivity challenges posed by remote work. Those bots will save an estimated $2 million a year, according to the agency.

In addition, Paschal’s team developed a cloud-based DevSecOps pipeline to develop, test and deploy RPA applications and allow rapid onboarding of USCIS offices interested in using RPA.