JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – A new computer security automated process, developed by the Air Force Installation Contracting Center, could mean significant time and cost savings for Airmen across the Air Force.
A three-person team of AFICC Chief Information Officer Matt Seibert and information technology specialists Mia DeLucia and Liam Randall competed in the Air Force's "Rise of the Digital Wingman Challenge," an Air Force-wide competition that empowers Airmen to automate and learn about Robotic Process Automation.
RPA allows configuration of computer software, or a "robot," to emulate and integrate the actions of a human interacting within digital systems to execute a business process. The team submitted an RPA project titled "COMPUSEC Ninja," where it used software called UiPath to automate a significant portion of in-processing paperwork for onboarding employees. The team earned "Most Overlooked" honors in the "So Close: Consolation Awards" category Sept. 20.
"As a result of leading such a small team, innovating and getting things done smarter and faster isn’t just desirable, it’s absolutely necessary," Seibert said. "When I saw (Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson's) call go out for the ‘Rise of Digital Wingman’ competition and the opportunity to test drive the UiPath automation software, I knew we were going to participate."
Each Air Force organization has its own onboarding process, Seibert said, and there are more differences than similarities.
"We created this process because we saw a need, it expedited the process and improved the overall experience," he said. "It's proof of concept that any other organization in the Air Force could implement our same process to then enjoy the same time and experience improvements to their onboarding with IT."
The current process for onboarding new AFICC employees starts with the cyber liaison from the IT team assigning a laptop to the new user, Seibert said. Before configuring the laptop, the team is required to complete five COMPUSEC forms – AF 4433, AF 4394, Collaborative Computing Device, Personally Owned Equipment and Temporary Issued Receipt – to stay in compliance.
The liaison opens the first form, retrieves the user computer's serial name from a data base and the user's basic information that includes first name, last name, rank/grade, work phone number and work email address from Outlook. He or she then copies and pastes or types that data into the AF 4433, verifies the information is correct, saves the form and files it to send to the user. The process is repeated for the other four forms.
In contrast, the automated process allows the IT specialist to configure the laptop while the robot fills out the COMPUSEC forms. The forms are then delivered to the new user's email once the specialist is finished configuring the laptop.
Automating COMPUSEC forms reduces the average time spent on them from nine minutes down to three, Randall said. If the Air Force implements AFICC's automated process, that could translate into 1.1 million minutes of time saved annually and $372,000 in cost savings.
"If this one small nuisance of filling out your personal details on five different COMPUSEC forms can be automated away, that enables us to return that time to not only our IT team but to all Airmen," Seibert said giving them "a little bit of time back to focus on not repetitive, mundane and menial tasks but back to the vision of being global change agents — embracing collaboration, innovation, trust, empowerment and risk.”