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Center of Excellence

The USDA OCIO robotic process automation (RPA) program is shifting from focusing primarily on RPA to identifying opportunities to implement Intelligent Automation (IA) across the enterprise. IA combines RPA with advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to form smarter, and increasingly, more intelligent automation systems. 

The goal of USDA IA Center of Excellence (CoE) - formerly the RPA CoE - is to help guide Mission Areas and Staff Offices through the process of ensuring IA projects are efficiently and effectively delivered with a focus on customer service. IA aligns with one of the Secretary’s top priorities to ensure USDA programs are delivered efficiently, effectively, and with integrity and focus on customer service as well as the USDA OCIO’s strategic goal 5 “Optimize Value of IT Services.”

Intelligent automation will lead to significant impacts for people, processes, and USDA mission areas. Key benefits include:

  • Improved productivity, conformity, and sustainability with process mining
  • Better customer/citizen experiences through faster response times and access to higher quality data, decisions, and insights
  • Cost savings stemming from more streamlined, efficient processes
  • Increased innovation and employee satisfaction and engagement through a redirection to high value work
  • Increased transparency and decreased bias through process standardization

What We Are Doing:

USDA is taking a tiered approach to intelligent process automation at USDA that encompasses RPA, AI, ML, and process mining tools. USDA is identifying the best way to automate based process complexity, technology fit, availability, and cost.

  • Tier 1 - RPA automated tasks
  • Tier 2 - IA capability - utilization of pretrained models
  • Tier 3 - Big data analytics AI/ML - needs larger processing to train models; high risk high reward

Next Steps:

  • Work with Mission Areas and Staff Offices to identify and plan for new intelligent automation projects
  • Offer a flexible, long-term, sustainable operations and maintenance model for USDA and for all IA Customers through BPA

How to Get Started:

Do you currently have any processes that are manual, repetitive, and time consuming? Do you have to gather data from different systems to generate insights and make decisions? Do you have a strategic plan to shift from Low-Value to High-Value Work?

  • Contact your respective OCIO Digital Infrastructure Services Center (DISC) Business Relationship Manager (BRM)

IA Business Relation Managers (BRM)

  • Thomas Antonich: Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services (FNS), Natural Resources and Environment (Forest Service), Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs' (TFAA)
  • Christopher Clements: Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC), Rural Development (RD), Customer Experience Center (CEC)
  • Tyler Cole: Food Safety (FSIS), Office of Chief Financial Officer (OCFO)
  • Marlon Foster: Marketing and Regulatory Programs (MRP), Research, Education and Economics (REE)
  • Brenda Thoele: Department Administration (DA)