Federal Mutil-Agent System (FEDMAS)


Published on

The Federal Government’s 21st Century
Solution for Intelligent, Cloud-Based,
Virtual Customer Service

Published in: Technology, Business, Education
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total Views
On Slideshare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Federal Mutil-Agent System (FEDMAS)

  1. 1. The Federal Government’s 21st Century Solution for Intelligent, Cloud-Based, Virtual Customer Service 2011 FEDERAL MULTI-AGENT SYSTEM (FEDMAS) Vernon L. Myers US Army 7/31/2011
  2. 2. FEDERAL MULTI-AGENT SYSTEM (FEDMAS) Problem_____________________________________________________________________ 3 Current State of Federal/State Customer Service ____________________________________ 5 Future Vision of Federal/State Customer Service ____________________________________ 5 Idea: _______________________________________________________________________ 6 What is FEDMAS? _____________________________________________________________ 6 Background__________________________________________________________________ 6 Number of Citizens Served - Daily ________________________________________________ 6 Percentage of Users Adopting Virtual Service Offerings ______________________________ 6 Internet Availability ___________________________________________________________ 7 Smartphone Growth ___________________________________________________________ 7 Technology __________________________________________________________________ 7 Benefits to Federal Agencies ____________________________________________________ 8 Benefits to Citizens ____________________________________________________________ 8 Capability ___________________________________________________________________ 9 Risks _______________________________________________________________________ 9 Definitions__________________________________________________________________ 11 References _________________________________________________________________ 12 Page 2
  3. 3. FEDERAL MULTI-AGENT SYSTEM (FEDMAS) Problem: The Federal Government is not providing the high level of customer service that citizens demand and expect, especially considering the current federal budget deficit and the immense US debt. Why is it so hard for the Government to improve its performance in providing outstanding customer service? In fact, the President of the United States has recognized this problem and has issued the following directive to Federal agencies: President Obama Calls for 'Customer Service' Improvements in Federal Agencies President Obama issued an executive order mandating that each agency consult with OMB to develop a plan within 180 days to improve the user experience of its Government’s “cloud-first” computing strategy that will move a huge portion of federal e-mail and workflow into the online space customers. “With advances in technology and service delivery systems in other sectors, the public's expectations of the Government have continued to rise,” Obama wrote in the order. “The Government must keep pace with and even exceed those expectations.... Government managers must learn from what is working in the private sector and apply these best practices to deliver services better, faster, and at lower cost” (Kaplan, 1). McKinsey and Company, a global consulting firm, conducted research to determine how the Government can improve its performance and found that most people are skeptical that the federal government can actually achieve major performance breakthroughs for the following reasons (Lovegrove, 4): 1. 2. 3. 4. An entrenched workforce, who lack both the skill and will to improve performance. An electoral cycle that constrains ambitious programs. The budget process, which leads to an incremental approach to change. An array of stakeholders, to include: Congress, industry groups, and the media and all have different priorities. People will continue to be cynical and skeptical of the Government’s ability to improve its overall performance until they personally see, hear, or feel the positive effects of change in their own lives. I have addressed a few major obstacles to the Government improving its performance overall, but how does this apply to the area of customer service? What are the current perceptions of US citizens of the Government’s performance in providing customer service? A recent survey by MeriTalk.com provides some interesting frustrations and opportunities for government leaders to consider. In a recent survey of 1,000 Americans ages 18 and older, MeriTalk.com sought to gauge their customer-service expectations and perceptions of Federal agencies’ customer service. Americans are frustrated; they want the Feds to improve response time and to streamline information. Some of the respondents’ current frustrations include (Hardt, 8): Page 3
  4. 4. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. FEDERAL MULTI-AGENT SYSTEM (FEDMAS) Takes too long. No straight answer to questions. Information not consistent. Representatives do not care about citizens’ problems. Needed information is not available. Issues cannot be addressed using preferred method. The problems identified above are striking and need immediate attention if Federal agencies are intent on increasing the quality of customer service provided to American citizens. In every problem, there are also opportunities; MeriTalk.com outlined the following opportunities as well: 1. 2. 3. 4. U.S. Federal agencies offer services to 307 million Americans every day (Hardt, 2). 83% of Americans want the Federal Government to improve customer service (Hardt, 4). Federal agencies must expand web presence and move more services on-line (Hardt, 4). 43% of Americans would be willing to pay for an upgrade in customer service (Hardt, 6) The MeriTalk.com study mentions the need for Federal agencies to expand their web presence and to move more services on-line. The Federal government has clearly embraced web technology, spending $71B in 2009 (10% went to E-Government initiatives) (Chui, 27). How are the Federal agencies currently performing in providing customer service via the web? What will the Government do to address the problems, frustrations, and opportunities outlined in the MeriTalk.com study? One way for the Government to improve its performance in providing customer service is to capitalize on all of its past, present, and future investments in web technology and development. The money invested in web technology clearly identifies that this is a major area of importance; however, how is the Government doing in this area? The answer, it seems, is not so good. McKinsey and Company conducted a study that found problems with the way the Government handles the web. The major obstacles identified were (Chui, 26-27): 1. Ineffective governance i.e., responsibility for the web is fragmented across agencies 2. Lack of web-related capabilities i.e., agencies lack the technical talent to optimize and adapt websites 3. Reluctance to allow user participation i.e., agencies are not embracing Web 2.0 technologies to include blogs, wiki’s, and mashups; agencies restrict user participation in order to maintain control Page 4
  5. 5. FEDERAL MULTI-AGENT SYSTEM (FEDMAS) The problem is that there is no cohesive customer service strategy that gets the vast government bureaucracy, or the Whole-of-Government, on the same page as it relates to providing better customer service. This strategy should include ways to fully utilize Web 2.0 technology and to imagine how to use the powerful emerging technology of Web 3.0. This lack of an overall strategy for improving customer service will continue to result in disjointed and uncoordinated efforts across the Federal Government. The solutions will continue to be agency-specific and stove-piped to the extent that they may only work or be applicable to one agency or organization. If this continues, the Federal Government will not improve its overall performance, citizens will continue to feel frustrated and the Government will not effectively utilize the web as the powerful customer service platform that it could be. Current State of Federal/State Customer Service John Q has to apply for a passport, file his taxes, obtain a copy of his medical records, and renew his driver’s license. He works 40-50 hours each week, so he doesn’t have much free time to take care of personal business. Unfortunately, most Government offices close before he leaves work but thankfully the driver’s license facility has a website where he can download and complete the required application, pay on-line, and in a couple of weeks he will receive his license. He recently purchased the latest version of his favorite tax preparation software which will allow him to E-file his taxes over the weekend. Obtaining a passport and a copy of his medical records will take more time and prove to be a bit more challenging. To obtain a passport, John Q must visit the State Department website, download and complete the application, get a picture taken at the post office, and finally mail the application to the State Department. To obtain a copy of his medical records, John Q has to visit his doctor’s office, complete a request form, and wait to receive his records in a couple of weeks. Can John’s customer service experience be improved? How can the Federal and State Agencies involved in this scenario increase their overall efficiency by making it easier for citizens to interact with them? Is there a way for a citizen to significantly reduce the amount of time required to transact business with the Government? John had to initiate three government service transactions (driver’s license, passport and medical records) and one self-service transaction (E-file taxes) to obtain his required results. Future Vision of Federal/State Customer Service: What if a US citizen could transact business with and receive service from EVERY Federal and State Agency – Anywhere, Anytime…Simultaneously and receive an immediate response or result…by doing one thing – Giving a Command? Page 5
  6. 6. Idea: FEDERAL MULTI-AGENT SYSTEM (FEDMAS) FEDMAS: The Federal Government’s 21st Century Solution for Intelligent, Cloud-Based, Virtual Customer Service. What is FEDMAS? FEDMAS is a dynamic, secure, cloud-based, Distributed Multi-Agent Intelligent System (DMAIS) consisting of all Federal and State Agencies, manned by ultra-intelligent agents, backed up by human facilitators, who provide customer service to citizens (via personal ultra-intelligent agents who act in place of the citizen) - anytime, anywhere…simultaneously and virtually. FEDMAS combines the cutting-edge technologies of artificial intelligence, cloud-computing, ultra-intelligent agents, human language interface, E-government, personal avatars, Web 2.0/3.0, and web-enabled, mobile devices into an anytime/anywhere, secure, customer service environment. This information technology idea will fundamentally change the way the Federal Government provides customer service. Background There are four important factors/trends that must be addressed in order to establish the future feasibility of this idea, these factors are: the current total number of citizens served on a daily basis by Federal agencies, the total percentage of citizens who have adopted a current virtual service offering, US internet availability via WiMax, and smart phone growth. The four factors, when combined with a few “not-invented yet” emerging technologies, will assist in making FEDMAS: The Federal Government’s 21st Century Solution for Intelligent, Cloud-Based, Virtual Customer Service a reality. Number of Citizens Served - Daily 307 million Americans are served by the Federal agencies on a daily basis (Hardt, 2). The sheer size of this “customer-base” is overwhelming because each transaction represents a unique problem, situation, need, or circumstance. However, this also represents a huge opportunity to use emerging technology to automate routine transactions thereby attaining an immediate increase in efficiency and reducing the total cost of customer service across the Federal Government. Automation has become the expectation in routine business processes, creating constant pressure to reevaluate and improve (Lovegrove, 11). Percentage of Users Adopting Virtual Service Offerings One example of a previously manual/routine transaction that has been automated and adopted by Americans on a huge scale is the process of filing Federal and State taxes. In fact, electronic Page 6
  7. 7. FEDERAL MULTI-AGENT SYSTEM (FEDMAS) filing of taxes (E-filing) has grown to where 70% of US taxpayers now file taxes electronically, instead of filing the old-fashioned way via the US Postal Service (Chui, 26). Internet Availability Another trend is the anytime/anywhere availability of the internet via WiMax technology. Back in 2008, Mr. Ben Wolff, CEO of Clearwire, predicted that by the end of 2009, WiMax would be available to 60-80 million US consumers. By 2010, Mr. Wolff predicted that that number could leap to 140 million users out of a total of over 190 million internet users (Sterling, 1). Smartphone Growth The last factor is smart phone growth within the US consumer base. By 2015, 110 million Americans will have a smart phone, that’s approximately 43% of the total population. This is not even considering estimates that every person on the planet will have up to eight information technology devices, which includes computers, tablets, audio players, book readers and other items (Future, 1). The four factors discussed above combined with key “not-invented yet” emerging technologies, will enable Federal agencies to provide greatly improved customer service – anywhere, anytime…and simultaneously. FACTOR Number of Citizens Served (Daily) % of Users Adopting Virtual Service Offerings Internet Availability Smartphone Growth TREND The U.S. Federal agencies offer services to 307 million Americans every day 70% of tax payers filed taxes electronically The web via WiMax will be available anytime/anywhere to over 140 million Americans By 2015, 110 million Americans will have smart phones (43% of the population) Technology During my research and development of this idea, it seemed to me that a great deal of this technology exists already; however, since I am not a technical expert I cannot definitively determine how far we are from seeing the realization of this system. Of note, Mr. William E. Halal of the World Future Society published a paper in 2006 titled, “Technology’s Promise: Highlights from the TechCast Project.” On page 3, the chart identifies a forecast that EGovernment would make its appearance around 2012, followed by the appearance of Intelligent Interface by 2013-2014, which I assumed to be introduction of intelligent agents to the public. I believe this idea is unique because I could not find a single reference related to combining the following cutting-edge technologies: artificial intelligence, ultra-intelligent agents, human language interface, E-government, personal avatars, ubiquitous computing, Web 2.0 and 3.0 Page 7
  8. 8. FEDERAL MULTI-AGENT SYSTEM (FEDMAS) technologies and web-enabled, mobile devices and applying them to providing customer service in a government environment. Benefits to Federal Agencies • Increased efficiency o Routine tasks or transactions that normally require human interaction will be done virtually by Intelligent Agents (Fedbots). o Service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. o Faster response times to inquiries and requests for service. o Virtual Agent-to-Agent interaction; Person-to-Person, only when necessary • Reduced costs o Require less personnel and facilities to accomplish the mission o Ability to repurpose current personnel to focus on critical issues affecting the agency that require higher-level creativity, problem-solving and decision-making o Provide anywhere, anytime service with no additional increase to the current workforce • Intangibles o This idea will reduce US citizen dissatisfaction with Federal agency customer service. o Able to provide a “human touch” through the use of human facilitators. Benefits to Citizens • Saves time o No phone calls; no waiting in line; no driving to the local government facility. o Ability to transact business with Federal and State agencies, anytime, anywhere...simultaneously! Bots Never Sleep! o Accomplish multiple transactions with one command. • Secure environment o Personal identification and authentification are required. o Personal, financial, medical and other information is protected by the most advanced security technology available. • Personal touch o Human facilitators interact with citizens as needed; solve only the most difficult problems. o Connect over the web via WiMax or talk voice-to-voice using a smart phone. • Quick response time o Transactional response time is fast; Federal agencies can increase the total number of Fedbots to meet the demand. o Real-time notification and/or status alerts via email or texts. Page 8
  9. 9. FEDERAL MULTI-AGENT SYSTEM (FEDMAS) • Consistent service o Routine transactions are executed quickly and efficiently. • Convenient o Assign tasks to Intelligent Agent whenever you desire. Capability • Federal Agency o Each federal agency has a unique, multi-agent system within FEDMAS. o Each federal agency multi-agent system has a variable number of associated Intelligent Agents who are backed up by human facilitators. o Process documents. o Access citizen audio/video attachments. o Visually see and interact with citizen’s personal avatar. o Schedule appointments. o Receive and process payments. o Provide real-time status for all transactions via email or texts. o Providing information and responses to citizen inquiries. • Citizen o Each citizen has multiple Intelligent Agents personally associated with them. o Each Intelligent Agent has a specific function, purpose, and responsibility. o Transmit documents via Intelligent Agent. o Record and transmit audio/video attachments for viewing by Federal agency humans. o Select your personal avatar: a life-like representation of “you” on-line. o Request appointments with Federal agencies. o Make payments using the E-commerce functionality. o Receive real-time status for all transactions via email or texts. o Request information and conduct research - virtually. Your Intelligent Agent does the work for you. o Conduct business with multiple agencies…simultaneously and virtually. Risks • Security o The risk of having personal, financial, medical and other information compromised by thieves is high; however this issue is already being addressed in the commercial, government and research communities. • Citizen-Adoption o I believe that citizens will most likely be very reluctant to adopt this advanced method of transacting business with the Federal Government, however just like Page 9
  10. 10. FEDERAL MULTI-AGENT SYSTEM (FEDMAS) every other technological advance, the early adopters will lead the way followed by the laggards, once the problems have been worked out of the system. • Costs o I didn’t attempt to develop estimated total costs for this idea; however, the enormity and scope of this project leads me to believe that this would most likely be a joint venture between government, commercial, and educational entities. Page 10
  11. 11. FEDERAL MULTI-AGENT SYSTEM (FEDMAS) Definitions (El-Desouky, 1-2): • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • FEDMAS: The Federal Multi-Agent System StateMAS: The Department of State Multi-Agent System HHSMAS: The Department of Health and Human Services Multi-Agent System IRSMAS: The Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service Multi-Agent System Distributed Multi-Agent Intelligent System: a system in which several interacting, intelligent agents pursue some sort of goals or tasks that beyond their individual capabilities Distributed System: a system that is composed of many computers interconnected with networks which cooperate and coordinate to accomplish one common task. Intelligent Systems: systems that can simulate human beings’ work that requires intelligence including logic inferring, problem solving, deduction and induction. Intelligent Agent: a program that performs a task or pursues goals with minimal specific direction, using intelligent or heuristic techniques. Ultra-Intelligent Agent: a super intelligent agent that combines all of the functionality of an Intelligent Agent and much more (this is my definition; I could not find an official definition). Mobile Agent: an autonomous program that migrates between host systems in the process of pursuing one or more goals. Interface Agent: acts as a personal assistant. Information Agent: manages, manipulates and collates information from many distributed sources. Reactive Agent: responds to stimulus and respond in an environment where they are embedded. Smart Agent: learns from their actions. Hybrid Agent: can combine any of the functionality of the above agents. Smart Reactive Agent: realize human behavior model. Page 11
  12. 12. References: FEDERAL MULTI-AGENT SYSTEM (FEDMAS) 1. Chui, Michael, and Jason Baumgarten. "E-government 2.0 - McKinsey Quarterly - Public Sector Management." Articles by McKinsey Quarterly: Online business journal of McKinsey & Company. Business Management Strategy - Corporate Strategy - Global Business Strategy. July 2009. McKinsey & Company. 31 July 2011 <http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/Public_Sector/Management/E-government_20_2408>. 2. El-Desouky, Ali I., Hesham A. Ali, and Sally M. El-Ghamrawy. A Proposed Architecture for Distributed Multi-Agent Intelligent System (DMAIS). Diss. Mansoura University, Unknown. Unknown. Unknown. 15 July 2011 <Unknown>. 3. The Future of Smart Mobile Devices. Article. 10 Feb. 2011. EMarketer. 29 July 2011 <www.emarketer.com>. 4. Hardt / RightNow, Melissa, and Rebecca Hovey / Meritalk. UNCLE SAM AT YOUR SERVICE. Research Study. 31 Aug. 2010. RightNow. 31 June 2011 <www.meritalk.com>. 5. Kaplan, Rebecca. Obama Calls for 'Customer Service' Improvements in Federal Agencies. Article. 27 Apr. 2011. National Journal. 29 July 2011 <http://www.nationaljournal.com/whitehouse/obama-calls-for-customer-serviceimprovements-in-federal-agencies-20110427>. 6. Lovegrove, Nick, Garret Ulosevich, and Blair Warner. "Making government better – and keeping it that way - McKinsey Quarterly - Public Sector - Management." Articles by McKinsey Quarterly: Online business journal of McKinsey & Company. Business Management Strategy - Corporate Strategy - Global Business Strategy. Spring 2011. McKinsey & Company. 29 July 2011 < http://www.mckinsey.com/en/Client_Service/Public_Sector/Latest_thinking/McKinsey_ on_Government/Change_under_pressure.aspx>. 7. Sterling, Greg. Sprint: WiMax Will Be Available to 80 Million in US by Next Year. Article. 21 Oct. 2008. Opus Research. 31 July 2011 <http://internet2go.net/news/carriers/sprint-wimax-will-beavailable-80-million-us-next-year>. 8. Turban, E., D. King, J. Lee, M. Warkentin, and H. Chung. "Appendix D." Electronic Commerce: A Managerial Perspective. New Jersey, USA: Pearson Education, 2002. D1-D24. Page 12