HHS combines AI, automation, blockchain for the acquisition project


Much of the chat about the modernization of the IT quest this year focused on the potential benefits of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, automation or blockchain could lead to federal agencies.

But the Department of Health and Human Services hopes to show how all three together could rationalize purchasing power by November.

Jose Arrieta, deputy assistant secretary for the acquisition of HHS, said Thursday that the agency is planning that its ReImagine HHS initiative could obtain a complete authority to operate before Thanksgiving by providing the ability to test the system with real-time data and potentially transform the acquisition process

"We think the model we built is the operational model for the administrative management functions throughout the department," Arrieta said in a panel at Red Hat OPEN FIRST Street Tour. "We are going to start implementing it in other areas, so this is not a model for acquisition."

ReImagine HHS aims to make acquisition more efficient by exploiting automation, automation and blockchain technologies in collaboration to create a series of microservices that use procurement data to find cost savings, design better contracts and reduce purchase time.

Here's how it works: machine learning algorithms purify data from five distinct contract writing systems and place them in a structured data taxonomy to track blockchain technology. The blockchain automatically updates transaction information in a protected and compartmented cloud infrastructure.

From there, the project uses microservices to prepopulate acquisition documents and market research from the level of structured data. The microservices can also analyze historical data relating to prices paid by the agency product categories to find better price comparisons for contract negotiations. The system is paired with a man-designed interface, HHS tested with employees to ensure it was easy to navigate.

The goal is to reduce the average life cycle of the 200-day to 90-day acquisition and provide company-wide visibility into a spending process that operates through the federated agency.

Arrieta told FedScoop that the project used a static data set to test the potential solutions it can provide to acquisition officials. If the project protects a complete ATO, it can then take real-time data from the contract writing systems to see if it can increase its services.

"It's really exciting for us," he said, crediting Oki Mek, the emergence of HHS technology strategist, for the progress of the project after starting as a $ 150,000 prototype.

Regarding the project's potential to influence other management operations, Arrieta said the strategy combines the advantages of the three popular emerging technologies and can be implemented across multiple use cases.

"I could be wrong, but it gives us the opportunity to take the best of AI, the best of data management and an immutable record, blockchain and apply them," he said. "What is administration and management? It is doing an accurate data set and using that dataset for reporting, for analysis, for processing."

For agencies seeking to innovate without much capital, Arrieta said the relatively small cost of the project prototype, which the team designed together with a business plan, allowed to generate buy-ins and manage risk while remaining flexible.

"Start small," he said. "If it does not work and you spend $ 50,000 to $ 100,000, kill it, if it works, resize it a little and try it again, but my number one advice is to start small, rebuilding an entire system costs too much money. "

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