• By Pacific island Times News Staff

Let the robots do the job, Speaker Muna Barnes says

Bill proposes process automation to streamline GovGuam

In response to the Republic Party of Guam's call for bureaucratic downsizing, Speaker Tina Muna Barnes has introduced a bill that would expand the automation of some functions of the government of Guam.

The government of Guam has a compelling need to explore technologies that can automate what are currently manual human computer processes, Muna Barnes said in introducing Bill 385-35.

"Automatic process automation is the necessary step GovGuam needs to improve government efficiency,” Muna Barnes said. “I ask my Democrat and Republican colleagues that we work together to recognize necessary budget projection reductions and use technology to make processes more efficient and eliminate the need for even more personnel. This is the direction we need to be going in.”

Speaker Tina Muna Barnes

With the plethora of various systems in place in GovGuam, a sizable portion of work hours are used to input information from one system to another.

"Time and time again, politicians have proposed ideas such as cutting taxes and cutting government, without really understanding that this will further hamper government operations," states a press release from the speaker's office.

The bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Jose "Pedo" Terlaje.

Muna Barnes said investing in the Robotic Process Automation "is a real solution to achieving what others only put out for the headlines."

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the technology that allows computer software, or “robot,” to emulate and integrate the actions of a human interacting with digital systems to execute administrative procedures. In recent years, the Guam Power Authority has integrated the RPA technology to save thousands of equivalent human work hours.

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This technology as prescribed in Bill 385-35 will improve government efficiency, eliminate human error in transferring data from one system to another and advance engagement with the public. RPA has been used by governments in the region including Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan to greatly reduce the need for human labor to do repetitive computer tasks.

The greatest need for such a pilot program is at the Department of Revenue and Taxation, where a process automation program can help with department of motor vehicles, tax refunds, collections and other processes that are vital to taxpayers.

Terlaje said finding more long-term cost efficiencies in government is imperative as Guam enters the budget season. "Academic studies project that RPA, among other technological trends, is expected to drive a new wave of productivity and efficiency gains in the global labour market. Although not directly attributable to RPA alone, Oxford University conjectures that up to 35 percent of all jobs may have been automated by 2035," states a press release from Terlaje's office.

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Terlaje said RPA will begin to seriously change the delivery of services, substituting technology for people, which will alter the economics of service delivery, causing labour to be less of a factor. GPA has already implemented robotic process automation and saved over 8,000 man hours in one division automating processes that used to be manually done by employees. The pilot program at the Department of Revenue and Taxation as proposed by Bill 385-35, can make collections more efficient, as well as tax refund processing and the department of motor vehicles. “GovGuam needs to be more productive and efficient while spending less on operations costs. Governments and businesses all over the world are using process automation to make this happen and we need to do the same,” Terlaje said. “A more technologically capable government is the path to a more streamlined and efficient GovGuam."

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