How Turning to a Digital Workforce Is Government’s Path from Legacy IT to IT Transformation


Digital workers can address most automatable tasks at an agency.

The public sector has an understandably high bar for adopting emerging technologies, not only because of governance issues, but also due to the challenge of making new technologies interoperable with legacy IT systems, tools and programming languages. Recognizing this challenge, many government agencies have leaned into automation, AI and connectivity-focused technologies to support a transition away from legacy systems towards IT modernization and automation.

Today, research has disproven the fear that software automation endangers human jobs. In fact, government employees have already benefited from the clear value of a digital workforce of software robots that can make processes more efficient while freeing up human workers to focus on more creative and meaningful work. To expedite digital transformation initiatives, the Biden administration has earmarked $1 billion in the American Rescue Plan for the Technology Modernization Fund. The U.S. government and private sector have a unique opportunity to collaborate on modernizing government technology once and for all by enacting intelligent automation beyond a single program download.

One of the easiest steps the public sector can take in order to modernize is to deploy a digital workforce. This type of intelligent automation delivers an effective, compliant and cross-functional approach to process identification and automation. As a result, both technical and nontechnical teams can access the full power of a digital workforce due to its low-and no-code approach. Digital workers, deployed and managed by nontechnical team members, can address most automatable tasks at an agency, while leaving the most complex 25% of tasks to technical developers and IT teams.

The great news is that low and no-code tools empower human teams to build bridges from COBOL and other antiquated computing languages/tools to the dynamic, automated tools that will enable the development of transformative technologies. Digital workers can ease the transition by using AI and automating tasks across agencies—both in the back and front of office.

A platform for digital workers also allows agencies to standardize data protection of sensitive records with singular control. This is one of the reasons why the Texas Medicaid and Healthcare Partnership implemented intelligent automation to support its enrollment, verification and transaction processing at scale. In the past year, digital workers have been tasked with processing a COVID-driven surge of 20,000 transactions for the TMHP recovery audit team. By transferring these manual processes to digital colleagues, the risk of human error significantly decreased, HIPAA compliance is easier and the team is able to maintain quality control at a high volume. Now, human workers have freed up time to take on more complex tasks and focus on customer experience.

Similarly, the Virginia Department of Transportation recognized a need to keep up with tech disruptors from a business-side perspective. When it launched the VDOT of Tomorrow initiative to prepare VDOT to use, adapt to and regulate connectivity and automation within the transportation sector, it invested in intelligent automation and no-code tools to reach its goals. Now, intelligent automation is at the heart of VDOT’s Business Enablement Support Team, which deploys digital workers alongside human counterparts to support transport infrastructure and innovation projects. VDOT’s digital workforce is an integral part of helping the agency ensure operational efficiency, safety and a better user experience of public transportation across all of its functions.

Government agencies that deploy digital workforces can move forward with a dynamic, forward-looking and digital-first approach that serves more people. As workers and organizations become more comfortable with intelligent automation, we will see more digital workers employed in the public sector, working “hand in hand” with their human colleagues to deliver better, faster and more secure citizen services.

Steve Picot is vice president of Americas Public Sector for Blue Prism.