DFAS Robotics Team recognized with award

Story by Steve Lawson, DFAS Corporate Communications

DFAS HEADQUARTERS, July 22, 2021 – The successful standup and progress of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service Robotics team have been recognized with the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) Award at the teams level for Contributions in Financial Management (Excluding Budget) category.

The Agency Robotics Team was stood up to support the President's Management Agenda and implemented twelve automated Robotic Process Automation (RPA) solutions that shift nearly 10,000 hours from low-value to high-value work. They expect their work to achieve cost efficiencies totaling almost $466,000.

DFAS added Robotics to its Strategic Plan in FY20. The team, comprised of information technology specialists and business management analysts, was charged with formalizing robotics governance, prioritizing its bot idea inventory, and putting twelve attended bots into production. The automated solutions (bots) aim to ensure compliance, enhance auditability, and process routine transactions. Notable bots include:
  • Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) Validation Bot - Automates the process of validating customer banking before issuing travel claim payments. Since its implementation, the EFT Verification bot has validated over 130,000 travel claims and automatically updated over 48K of those records in the travel system. Estimated annual savings are expected to reach nearly $332,000.
  • DFAS Departmental Reporting System, Budgetary (DDRS-B) Army Report Bot - Automates the process of producing hundreds of reports from the DDRS-B system during the reporting cycle and saving to a shared drive for customer access. Over 30 accountants generated over 36,000 reports during FY20.
  • Corporate Electronic Document Management System (CEDMS) Inactivity Bot and the Navy Standard Accounting Budget Reporting System (SABRS) Login Reminder Bots - Sends email reminders to log into the system or risk losing access. On average, in FY19, DFAS reset SABRS-Navy user accounts 136 times per month. Of those resets, roughly 20-30 percent of the accounts had to initiate new System Authorization Access Requests that delayed users from performing their duties. Rework to reestablish accounts was reduced by 60 percent.
  • Corporate Electronic Document Management System (CEDMS) Suspend Access Bot: Ensures 100 percent compliance that system access is removed in a timely manner when DFAS employees leave the Agency. Before the bot's implementation, it could take two weeks to have CEDMS system access removed. Since its implementation, access to CEDMS is removed within 24 hours.
In addition to procuring the needed software, DFAS stood up the needed infrastructure to support RPA. As each automation is developed, System Managers carefully monitor and watch the impact of bot performance on their system. DFAS performed all development work in safe, non-production environments then moved to production environments. DFAS worked closely with other DoD Agencies who were also standing up RPA programs sharing successes and learning from other government agencies.

Since the program has started, DFAS has deployed 16 Bots and has another 20 in the development pipeline.

David Cottengim took over as head of the Robotics program in January and appreciates the program's successes up to now.

"I am still relatively new to the DFAS RPA Program," said Cottengim, "I owe a debt of gratitude to the team that won this prestigious DoD Award. They clearly did a great job standing up our RPA program."

"We are building on their success. The DFAS RPA program is expanding into more mission areas every month and we invite people to work with their site POCs to bring forth even more great ideas to build on the success this team delivered."

Members of the team recognized for supporting the effort include:
​Leslie Bales ​James Bills  ​Gregory Coonrod  ​Steve Kaminski  ​Derick Kohl
​Leah Kuhlmann ​Brent Lang ​Brandy Nickens ​Perry Parmly ​Josh Patterson
​Joshua Rapke ​Dain Rasmussen ​Mary Ruminski ​Adam Samek ​Eric Skutt
​Eric Skutt ​John Smits ​Rachel Stewart  

Page updated July 22, 2021