The prospect of robots checking tax returns has been raised as HM Revenue & Customs revealed it hopes AI can be used for ‘compliance’ activities.
The department’s digital transformation director Brigid McBride said it was stepping up a drive to automate processes.
Speaking at a public sector IT conference run by Dods this week, she said some robotics tools were already being deployed in its dealings with customers – and the ‘pace of change’ was increasing.
Ms McBride said HMRC was ‘dipping our toe in AI’ and was hoping to use it for ‘compliance and complex tax cases’, according to the Civil Service World website.
The department’s digital transformation director Brigid McBride said it was stepping up a drive to automate processes
‘We use a lot of new channels like social media, to help deal with simple queries. We also have a virtual assistant – called Rita – a very simple robotics technology,’ she said.
‘The pace of change is not slowing, the demands of our customers are growing, and our customers are moving towards self-employment.
‘The real challenge is building an organisation that can absorb that change and adapt to it.’
HMRC wants to automate 10 million processes by the end of the year.
Ms McBride said: ‘We have been absolutely crushed by the enthusiasm,.
‘We did a bottom-up approach instead of a big programme. We put in the capability then asked staff to identify processes that they felt could automate. We ended up with hundreds of small projects that were all things that people really cared about.
McBride added: ‘With robotics, we have been working with our customer services. If you have an old and ageing technology, your call centre staff (appreciate) a simple solution that brings data together and then repopulates the legacy system.
‘That movement and that excitement will be the thing that help us get to that 10 million. We did not have to push it (on staff), it was pulled in.’
HMRC wants to automate 10 million processes by the end of the year
Research has suggested hundreds of thousands of jobs in the public sector could be rendered obsolete by the march of automation.
A study by YouGov for the Royal Society of Arts last year also found four million jobs in the British private sector could be replaced by robots in the next decade – with accountants among those in the firing line.
Jobs in finance and accounting, transport and distribution and in media, marketing and advertising are most likely to be automated in the next decade, the research concluded.