Home IRS Procurement Office Leveraged RPA to Execute 1,466 Contract Modifications Just for 72 Hours

IRS Procurement Office Leveraged RPA to Execute 1,466 Contract Modifications Just for 72 Hours

by sol-admin

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the revenue service of the United States federal government, which is responsible for collecting taxes and administering the Internal Revenue Code, the main body of the federal statutory tax law. The IRS has its Office of the Chief Procurement Officer (OCPO) which helps employees within the Department of the Treasury buy goods and services from external vendors nationwide. Here is about its RPA case study.

In August 2020, the National Defense Authorization Act required that the IRS modify its contract clauses. By that time, the IRS had a limited timeframe to do so. The IRS Chief Procurement Officer Shana Webers was aware that the IRS was working on an RPA project outside of the contracting environment, but she wanted to reapply it to rework the contract clauses to meet the NDAA deadline.

We had to modify 1466 contracts. If we used our manual process, as usual, it was going to take us almost a year to complete. I had nine days to actually ensure that we got this completed, so what we decided to do after a lot of conversation was to leverage the RPA.”

Shana Webers, IRS Chief Procurement Officer

There are three focus areas that Webers says are critical to acclimating the workforce to opening their minds to and effectively using RPA. She said an organization must:

  • Embrace a holistic approach to capture the value of RPA.
  • Effectively reskill employees and do so in a consistent manner.
  • Address employee fears around automation through open communication and change management.

The contracting team had “a lot of angst” when Webers introduced the RPA solution, but most of the hesitation stemmed from inexperience using RPA in the past and uncertainty of its ability to work. Webers then engaged in the first and third of her focus areas with her employees.

“I took an opportunity to just really listen — what are they saying, why did they have a concern about using this approach? I think that by allowing me to hear their voice and hear that it was okay for them to be a little scared and afraid to go to an unproven approach and just emphasize that I had their back. The worst thing that could happen was our automation didn’t work as planned and we could go back to taking a year to complete it.”

Shana Webers, IRS Chief Procurement Officer

That communication and empathy yielded positive results for Webers, who said that with RPA, she was able to execute almost 1,500 contract modifications in 72 hours. It reduced the administrative burden on contracting officers, eliminated data errors, and enabled the team to upload modifications into their contract file repository.

Amid this process, Webers noted that it’s critical for leadership to consider organizational readiness when introducing new technologies like RPA. One way to prepare an organization for RPA and other automated technologies is for leadership to help their workforce build technical skills, such as the ability to correct machine malfunctions, troubleshoot and repair bots, analyze quality control, and implement new bot functions.

Webers also recommended building adaptive and soft skills for employees to remain agile for technological change. These include reinforcing critical thinking, active listening, cross-functional teaming, complex problem-solving, and systems skills.

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