State agencies and providers that service the California public sector are beginning to closely examine and deploy robotic process automation (RPA) with expectations of improving service and efficiency.

Initiatives are still in the beginning stages, but officials with the California State Association of Counties Excess Insurance Authority (CSAC EIA), a joint powers authority, already are optimistic that their recent deployment of bot technology from UiPath will enhance accuracy and noticeably increase transaction numbers — two common RPA goals or benefits. Meanwhile, at least two other state agencies are poised to begin engagements with UiPath. Among the takeaways:

• The New York-based vendor’s technology is in place in 33 federal agencies, at least three other states and at least one city and county. Its RPA bots require an interface within which to capture data and manipulate apps as a staffer would — but, naturally, are able to work nonstop with zero errors, doing the “boring, necessary work” to let humans do “more fulfilling work,” UiPath Public Sector Marketing Director Jim Walker told Techwire.

“At the end, it really just allows people to focus on the stuff that humans are really good at focusing on, which is all the cognitive thinking,” said Molly Fitzgerald, UiPath account manager for state and local government.

• CSAC EIA, which works with all but three of the state's 58 counties, covers roughly 2,000 public agencies around the state in one of its insurance programs. It did a proof of concept with UiPath in January and a user agreement at the end of March, and it worked with Sacramento solutions provider Trinity Technology Group Inc. on programming. CSAC EIA had a bot working, in production, by the end of May, doing one process — but three more processes are planned; and another four to five processes in FY 2019-2020, its Chief Operating Officer Gina Dean told Techwire.

The organization intends to automate roughly 80 percent of the work of an administrative assistant who processes claims, freeing that person to do other tasks — and to become a subject matter expert in the original work, to prepare it to be done by a bot.

“I think going forward, as our use of RPA expands, we will ... have to develop some in-house expertise on maintaining those bots and developing new ones. Right now, honestly, we were just looking at the low-hanging fruit, the high-ROI (return on investment) processes in the organization so that we can get our feet wet with RPA technology, get a quick win and build enthusiasm and excitement for the technology,” said CSAC EIA CIO Tom Pelster.

• The California Energy Commission (CEC) recently issued a Request for Offer (RFO) inviting respondents to “this California Multiple Award Schedule (CMAS) Request for Offer (RFO) for Information Technology (IT) Consulting Services,” according to documentation provided to Techwire by UiPath.

In an arrangement that appears somewhat similar to CSAC EIA’s deployment, the energy commission “requires Information Technology consulting services to provide UiPath Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Consulting Services,” according to the RFO. Responses were reportedly due June 14. A CEC representative had not responded to Techwire by deadline; however, this article may be updated.

• The California Department of Technology (CDT) will host UiPath for a workshop next month, an official confirmed. The company will provide a full day of RPA training for CDT's Digital Services Innovation Academy in July, CDT spokesman Bob Andosca said via email.