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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Jan. 5, 2024

Transforming operations with robotics process automation

By Jason Allred, MyCG Web Editor

In the Coast Guard, where doing more with less is an ongoing challenge, innovative technologies are playing a pivotal role in enhancing mission outcomes. Among these groundbreaking technologies, robotics process automation (RPA) has emerged as a powerful tool, paving the way for increased operational efficiency, improved data quality, more informed decision-making, and an overall enhanced experience for our active duty, reserve, and civilian workforce.  

What is RPA? 

RPA is a software-driven, rules-based technology that excels in automating time-exhaustive, repetitive tasks, making it the perfect solution to bolster workforce productivity and efficiency. It is important to note that RPA is neither a physical or mechanical robot nor is it a complex, cognitive AI machine. From operational units to complex support activities, RPA is a practical solution that is being implemented across the Coast Guard right now and is primed to scale in the coming months.  

Benefits of RPA 

  • Freeing up work hours: by automating routine, repetitive tasks, RPA frees up our workforce to focus on more engaging, high-impact tasks. 
  • Avoiding penalties resulting from human errors: RPA minimizes the likelihood of human errors in completing tasks, helping the USCG ensure accurate and compliant reporting. 
  • Improving employee morale: as employees are relieved of monotonous and time-consuming tasks, morale and job satisfaction improves, fostering a more engaged and motivated workforce. 
  • Allowing employees to focus on engaging, high-impact tasks: RPA enables employees to dedicate their energy and expertise to tasks that have a direct and meaningful impact on the USCG's mission. 

Would your program benefit from RPA? 

  1. Is the process repetitive and consistent? RPA is tailor-made for tasks that follow a set of rules and are consistent in their execution. 
  2. Is the task free from individual adjustment or evaluation? RPA excels in tasks that don't require subjective judgment or individual evaluation. 
  3. Does the task rely on existing tools and applications? RPA can seamlessly integrate with existing tools and applications, enhancing their efficiency. 
  4. Does the task consume more than 250 hours a year? If a task is time-consuming, RPA can handle it with remarkable efficiency and speed. 
  5. Does the task need to be done multiple times a week? RPA is well-suited for tasks with a high frequency, ensuring consistent and accurate results. 
  6. Could a seasonal task be automated instead of adding staff? RPA can be a cost-effective solution for managing seasonal workloads without the need to hire additional staff.  

The Role of the C5ISC RPA Center of Excellence 

  • Establishing Enterprise-Wide RPA Governance Functions: The C5ISC RPA Center of Excellence ensures that RPA is deployed consistently and responsibly throughout the organization. 
  • Driving Expansion of Enterprise-Wide Automation: RPA is being scaled across various departments to maximize its benefits. 
  • Owning and Managing Technical Infrastructure: The CoE oversees the technical aspects to ensure smooth RPA operations. 
  • Designing, Developing, and Deploying Tailored Automation Solutions: Customized RPA solutions are crafted for specific customer needs. 
  • Offering Automation as a Service: RPA services are provided for efficient automation. 

Current impact of RPA 

Since the implementation of RPA, the Coast Guard has already saved an astonishing 65,000+ man hours. As of November 2023, 35 bots have been deployed across the organization. Between District 1, District 5, and CG-8 – a snapshot of current customers - RPA is improving the organizations operational efficiency and is allowing the workforce to focus on new priorities and initiatives. 

C5ISC worked with one operational unit that was understaffed to develop tailored made RPA solutions to address their backlog of work and to provide data-driven insights. This solution involved processing data from multiple systems to produce custom reports that drive operational priorities and efficient resource allocation. The two RPA solutions developed allowed the 3-person team to save 3,000 man-hours a year and allowed them to produce intelligence reports they previously were not able to due to staffing shortages.  

How to get in contact with C5ISC 

We encourage all members of the USCG - active duty, reserve, and civilian - to explore the use of RPA in their daily operations. Embracing this technology not only improves individual work experiences but also contributes to the broader success of our mission. Below is a digital form that serves as the initial point of contact between the RPA team and the unit or department that wants to automate a specific process. The purpose of this digital form is to gather essential information and requirements to assess feasibility and scope of the requested project.   

If you'd like to submit an RPA request to minimize repetitive tasks in your work center: Fill out their intake request form. 



Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Intake Request ( 

Basics of RPA 

RPA Bulletin 

In the News  

Coast Guard seeking ways to apply technology to automate repetitive tasks 

Coast Guard's first Data Strategy guides the way forward for data readiness 

'Digital On-Demand': A Game-Changer for Coast Guard AI Learning