The public sector’s list of compliance burdens sometimes seems like a mountain that never stops growing. For agencies, dealing with even one compliance concern – say, financial fraud – can appear endless.
But all hope is not lost. Agencies straining under their compliance workloads may want to consider automation. Automation involves machines performing simple, manual tasks with little to no human input. With automation, agencies can make even the heaviest compliance stockpiles feel lighter.
On Thursday, during GovLoop’s latest online training, three government thought leaders discussed how automation has helped the Energy Department (DOE) meet its compliance needs. The group included:
- Jesses Strubert, Funds Management Supervisor at the DOE.
- Pam Gallahar, Compliance Solutions Director at Infor, an enterprise cloud computing software provider.
- Emmanuel Twum, Vice President, ERP Advisory Services Practice at New River Systems, an IT and business systems consulting services provider.
The trio detailed how automation has helped streamline three parts of the DOE’s compliance journey:
1. Fueling fraud detection
Agencies run on tax dollars, so auditing their financial transactions for potential fraud is major responsibility. After all, citizen trust is partially based on the hope that agencies are good stewards of this money.
Fortunately, automation can make frequently difficult processes like financial auditing easier. Using automation, agencies can quickly detect signs of fraud like duplicated invoices, payments and purchase orders.
“It is almost like a needle in the haystack,” Gallahar said of hunting for financial fraud. “You want the needles to bubble up.”
According to Strubert, the DOE recently discovered several external payments that had been duplicated using automation and then recovered them.
2. Easing employment changes
According to Strubert, automation has also helped the DOE add or subtract employees to his agency.
“We’re able to set up someone’s responsibilities so that they’re similar to someone else’s in the organization,” he said of introducing new employees. “That’s saved us a lot of time from scrolling through a list of responsibilities that they are never going to use.”
Ultimately, automating processes like eliminating a departing employee’s access privileges can help agencies with security. If former employees cannot reach sensitive resources like data, the likelihood for potential security incidents also shrinks.
3. Reduce busy work
Every government employee has busy work – dull, repetitive and often manual duties that they would enjoy disappearing from their routines.
Take analyzing spreadsheets. While scrolling through rows of data can be monotonous, automation does not mind taking over this responsibility.
“It was very cumbersome, tedious and inefficient,” Twum said of the DOE’s old spreadsheet processes. “All of that time went away after using an automated solution.”
The last word
For agencies like the DOE, automation is about simplifying time-consuming checklists like compliance.
“We’re trying to automate as much as we can and have a lot of the work done for us rather than these manual processes,” Strubert said.
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