DAF hosts robotic process automation bot roadshow

  • Published
  • By Air Force Public Affairs

The Department of the Air Force’s Chief Data and Intelligence Office sponsored and organized a three-day Robotics Process Automation Roadshow at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, May 16-18.

The Roadshow utilized an automation program called UiPath, which mimics human actions and connects multiple systems without changing the existing information technology. The RPA Roadshows were created to test the creativeness of Air Force Sustainment Center employees in implementing the automation processes and finding ways to maximize its potential. The RPA roadshows were a spinoff of four highly successful VCSAF Digital Wingman Challenges. Over 3,000 Airmen were trained virtually during these challenges and a resounding bit of feedback was the desire for more specific localized training. The brainchild of DAFBOTs program manager, Matthew Roberts, the RPA roadshow began at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, in June of 2021 and has to date covered 26 locations. As a result of this event, the DAFBOT team is now working with the Department of the Army to conduct 12 joint Air Force/Army roadshows in Fiscal Year 2024.

The event at Joint Base Andrews was led by the DAF Bot Operations Team (DAFBOT) from Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Program Executive Office Business Enterprise Systems along with their prime contractor, Invoke Public Sector.

Eileen Vidrine, the Department of the Air Force Chief Data and Artificial Intelligence Officer, was able to personally stop by the training and visit with the trainees and organizers.

“The future of the Department of the Air Force relies on harnessing the power of AI to tackle everyday tasks that bog down our Airmen and Guardians. This exciting technology not only benefits the Department of the Air Force, but it is generating in interest across the Department of Defense. In fact, the recent roadshow even drew participation the Department of the Army,” Vidrine said. “Our workforce is excited to explore the potential of robotics process automation and the impactful improvements it can bring to those who serve our country.”

The Department of the Air Force has adopted RPA and encourages Airmen to find new and innovative ways of incorporating this process into their everyday workload. RPA can handle repetitive, mundane tasks that range from data collection from multiple sources to vendor sourcing across the globe. This process is aimed at giving time back to personnel to focus on unique, interesting, or complex workload activities, not eliminating their positions.

The potential of using RPA is limitless and only bound by the creator’s ability to find a task and put the bot to work. The logistics field is just one area where the bot can be used; other areas within the Department of the Air Force can benefit too.

“We’ve worked with 26 bases across the Department of the Air Force and support approximately 2700 citizen developers,” said DAFBOT's Master Sgt. Jody Perkins. “This week’s efforts will go a long way toward wider process automation adoptions.”

RPA Roadshow events were created to empower citizen developers, allowing organizations to capture missed opportunities, and put automation in the hands of employees.

“I can’t wait to present this (bot) to my leadership team!” said Master Sgt. Anetta Nichols, finance technician, Headquarters Air Force.

The Roadshow was open to all Department of the Air Force members (military, civilians, and contractors), and no skillset or training background was required to participate.

“This Roadshow got us started on Freedom Bot, a FOIA request intake bot,” said one participant. “This three-day course set us up to recover 40 hours per week in request processing time.”

The next roadshow will be held at the Los Angeles Air Force Base, June 19-23. Interested parties can go to DAFBOT - Home (dps.mil) to learn more.