CBP looking to boost bot deployments by end of calendar year

Chief technology officer Sunil Madhugiri says the agency is already using 150 bots to streamline operations in the back office and on the front line.
(U.S. Customs and Border Protection / Flickr)

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is looking to ramp up the number of bots it deploys by the end of the calendar year, according to its chief technology officer.

CBP has so far adopted 150 bots to carry out highly specific functions, both to streamline back-office operations and to help agents working in frontline roles, according to Sunil Madhugiri.

The agency has successfully implemented bots to assist with field operations, such as carrying out border checks, where agents have traditionally had to manually consult spreadsheets, he said Tuesday at the UiPath Together public sector summit produced by FedScoop.

“Three years back, we started seeing different scenarios [where bots could be used], and it became about folks in the field,” the CTO said. “We are using 150 [bots] so far, and the plan is to take the number of bots to 400 by the end of the calendar year.”


CBP is among the Department of Homeland Security agencies to continue to trial technology in recent months that may streamline specific programs and help clear processing backlogs.  

In April, the agency announced that it plans to pilot technology that would automate the National Vetting Center’s (NVC) process for verifying whether someone is a U.S. citizen. President Trump established the NVC in 2018 to streamline information-sharing between the intelligence community (IC), other federal agencies and law enforcement when determining the threat posed by people crossing U.S. borders. That calculus changes when dealing with a U.S. citizen.

The DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis is assisting with the pilot, now in the late planning stage, of an automation that will be available in a year, according to Chief Information Security Officer Eric Sanders.

John Hewitt Jones

Written by John Hewitt Jones

John is the managing editor of FedScoop, and was previously a reporter at Institutional Investor in New York City. He has a master’s degree in social policy from the London School of Economics and his writing has appeared in The Scotsman and The Sunday Times of London newspapers.

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