The Coast Guard has embraced Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to redefine its human resource operations with emerging technologies. Powered by the Office of Data Analytics’ Data Team One, this RPA initiative centers on automating processes involved with Coast Guard’s human resource information system, Direct Access (DA), an application vital for the management of pay, leave, assignments, and evaluations.
Streamlining Competency Management
A key recommendation was to revamp the handling of position-based competencies in DA, a task that used to take contractors about two weeks and was error-prone. Specifically, the automation is focused on updating the competency dictionary, which is done monthly, and managing the frequent (daily or weekly) updates to position-based competencies. This process, overwhelmed with over 2600 individual cases for skill and knowledge updates, is now being automated by the bot created by Data Team One.
The team collaborated with Dr. Michael A. Glenn, Sr., from Strategy and HR Capability, Program Management Office, and Lieutenant Brenda Rosado of the Office of HR Analytics, Strategy, and Capability, to develop a UiPath-based RPA bot for this purpose. This bot streamlines the repetitive task of updating competencies, which was previously manual. UiPath, the platform used for this automation, specializes in creating software that automates routine digital tasks usually performed by humans. UiPath also aids businesses in applying AI-based automation broadly.
The Advantages of Automation
“The beauty of the bot is in its accuracy and efficiency,” Dr. Glenn noted. “Once initiated, it can process an entire spreadsheet in just seven hours, virtually eliminating the human error that could compromise a task of this magnitude.”
The fiscal implications are equally significant, allowing the Strategy and HR Capability Office to recoup an estimated $270,000 in contract support savings. Yet the project’s value extends beyond immediate financial gains and time savings, as it aligns with the Coast Guard’s broader strategy of technological innovation for enhanced operational efficacy.
Looking to the Future: Beyond Excel
The real advantage isn’t just the hours saved; it’s about shifting from a cumbersome Excel spreadsheet to a more reliable repository,” said Lt. Brenda Rosado. “Migrating from our current approach to a sophisticated database system will enhance the Coast Guard’s competency management. This transition promises to improve accuracy and efficiency in identifying and managing competencies across various commands and programs, marking a significant step forward in our operational capabilities.”
The Coast Guard’s successful venture into RPA represents an essential milestone in the Coast Guard’s ongoing technological evolution. As the Coast Guard continues its data journey to explore innovations in data, analytics, and artificial intelligence, Data Team One and the Office of Data and Analytics has positioned itself as a vital unit, offering a pathway to enhanced efficiency and cost-saving in an era of increasingly complex and ever-evolving innovations and technologies being used by the Coast Guard to sharpen its competitive edge.