The Workforce Impact of AI in Government
Use of intelligent automation can lead to a surge in employee development but leadership must establish and reinforce the expectation that automation will augment the workforce. Augmenting the workforce will enable employees to spend more time on strategic initiatives instead of mundane tasks. IA can allow for more opportunities for employees to deliver tangible value.
However, AI technology can bring both optimism and anxiety to the workplace. The process of reducing, or even eliminating, drudge work such as inputting and processing is one reason why managers are enthusiastic about new applications based on artificial intelligence.
With this, staff resources can be freed up to do other, more important work, with people having time to focus on creative projects and deal directly with clients and customers. However, this new labor and cost saving technology can make everyone be on their toes – worrying that it will wipe out categories of employment. Cognitive technologies are increasingly capable of carrying out tasks once reserved for knowledge workers.
Technology, from farm equipment to factory robotics, has always displaced low-skilled workers but it’s not until recently that it’s threatened white-collar professionals. For the first time, knowledge workers whose jobs once seemed secure are feeling endangered.
Conversations with government executives suggest that most lack a clear vision of how AI applications might affect their staff and missions. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics optimistically predicts the government workforces will see almost no job losses between now and 2024. On the other hand, a recent study by Deloitte-UL and Oxford University suggests that up to 18% of UK public-sector jobs could be automated by 2030.
The key to planning ahead for IA is to understand how much time cognitive technologies could save. Based on Deloitte research, a new method of studying AI-based technology’s effects on government workforces indicated that cognitive technologies could free up large numbers of labor hours by automating certain tasks and allowing managers to shift employees’ tasks to requiring human judgment.
Intelligent automation could save hundreds of millions of staff hours and billions of dollars annually. It could free up to 30% of the government workforce’s time within five to seven years and minimal investment in AI would result in savings of just 2% to 4% of total labor time.
Most existing quantitative models rely on occupations as the unit of analysis. This begins by tallying workers by occupation and predicting which jobs will be replaced by technology.
Technology often substitutes for specific tasks, while workers who previously performed them shift to jobs complementary to the new technology. Recent history should that this has also been true for government work. Deloitte has developed a new methodology for measuring the amount of time government workers spend on the tasks that fill up their work days.
Deloitte estimates that the two workforces collectively work 4.3 billion (federal) and 108 million (state government) hours a year. Deloitte grouped the tasks they perform into “generalized work activities” using the US department of Labor’s activity framework. For both federal and state workers, by far the most time-consuming activity is documenting and recording information – a task capturing 10% of both federal and state government work hours.
Learn the latest information on Process Automation in Government at our event held in Washington D.C. on May 29th. Access the agenda: http://bit.ly/2SZHAnB