One of the more confusing aspects of working in government is having multiple masters. Each member of Congress and various entities in the Executive Branch all hold sway over the Departments and independent agencies. All of these taskmasters have a role to play in the governance and direction of the Federal Government in the form of guidance, policies, and queries. Every agency, department, bureau, and institute has to track, route, and respond to these items in a relatively rapid fashion. It’s a huge challenge.
In today’s e-government environment, Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) proposes a solution. IPA provides a single, unified and flexible way of working that is usage-based rather than user-based. That enables routing and tracking of these tasks everywhere in government down to the lowest level content provider, up to the highest levels in our government.
Executive requests: An ad-hoc process
Federal organizations need to coordinate across multiple entities within themselves to craft a unified response to complex executive requests and directives. Coordinating the various responses falls to organizational Chiefs of Staff or other administrative support offices. They, in turn, have created a series of ad-hoc tracking methods. It is true that at the department level, there may be some tracking tool, but that will not link internal staff to the task. It certainly doesn’t enable Congress or the Executive Branch to track the progress of the request, or recall previous responses.
This structure means that the link between the top layers of government and the interior of most federal organizations is a madcap collection of emails, spreadsheets, and different SharePoint sites. Organizational front offices are unable to track processes internally or have to resort to a second unrelated system to follow the tasks. Often visibility is lost in the front office, resulting in multiple phone calls and emails to content providers to check on the status — all while under a tight deadline for response.
Easing the complexity of congressional queries
Let us walk through a typical congressional query example with IPA: a congressperson receives a complaint from a constituent. The charge is about some proposed policy changes that the voter believes may impact their neighborhood. The complaint is entered into the new routing system and routed to the governmental entity in question. In this case, let’s say that it’s the Department of Agriculture who could answer the query.
The query would be routed directly to the Department’s front office. After review, the department realizes that two different internal agencies must answer the query: the Farm Service Agency and the Food Safety and Inspection Service. The task then would be routed to both agencies. Within the agencies, the query may then be routed to divisions and branches internally until the right Subject Matter Expert (SME) is found to respond. During this routing, the congressional office would be able to track the progress of the query.
The SME creates the necessary content. The proposed response is then routed back through the appropriate General Counsel, Public Affairs office, and leadership chains at both agency and departmental levels (in some extreme cases through the executive itself) before releasing it to Congress. This action involves some back and forth collaboration, but once completed, the task and its response would be available for others to view and search.
With the addition of Artificial Intelligence into the process, intelligent workflow routing could be automated, and similar tasks on the same subject could be cross-referenced, eliminating duplicate tasks. Additionally, the audit trail would be clean to enable seamless FOIA request coordination on the functions contained in the system. Privacy functions could be enabled throughout to limit who sees what but keeping the workflow and status transparent.
Digitization of services has become critical for federal organizations who want to improve the lives of their constituents. If you’d like to find out how to kick start digital transformation in your public sector organization, download our free whitepaper, Navigating the Federal Intelligent Process Revolution.