CTO Tanner Hughes brings robotic process automation to Oklahoma public safety
By Casey Maxwell
Office of Management and Enterprise Services Chief Technology Officer Tanner Hughes is a finalist for a prestigious award for his work at the Department of Public Safety, where he is helping the State of Oklahoma implement new technology, IT strategies and modern business processes to save time and money.
Each year, the StateScoop 50 Awards honor the best and brightest across the nation who make state government more efficient and effective, celebrating their tireless efforts to make a positive impact in public service.
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the need to modernize driver’s license renewals on a digital front and reduce outdated paper processes.
In 2020, DPS implemented Oklahoma’s first online driver’s license renewal system. However, with the former Oct. 1, 2021, deadline to comply with federal Real ID requirements looming, the demand for license renewals increased and caused a significant backlog of requests, leaving citizens waiting weeks, sometimes months, for online renewals.
Hughes earned the CTO position for the Department of Public Safety in spring of 2021. His passion for helping agency customers innovate with modern technology and updated processes quickly established him as an integral part of the DPS team. Aiming to overcome the license request backlog and help Oklahomans get back in the driver’s seat, Hughes and DPS tackled the issue on two fronts – access and efficiency.
To increase access and support for renewals, DPS rolled out two megacenters – one in Oklahoma City and one in Tulsa – where citizens could drop in and receive in-person help on the spot. Making the two megacenters functional required a quick turnaround, and Hughes jumped in to set the locations up for success. This included establishing a network of switches, cabling and WiFi, as well as installing computers for contract employees hired to work on-site at the megacenters.
The new online system and more boots on the ground helped improve public access to services. However, each request took an average of 15 minutes to complete, and the whole driver’s license renewal process consumed close to 700 hours per week for DPS employees. To increase efficiency and overcome the backlog, Hughes and DPS leadership knew the manual renewal process had to change.
Hughes saw an opportunity to reduce steps and save time for employees by using robotic process automation, a new software technology that makes it easy to build, deploy and manage software without manual human input.
After considering multiple vendors, OMES and DPS chose UiPath’s RPA system to streamline and automate the driver’s license renewal process for DPS employees.
The RPA system can complete the work of seven employees in one year, creating efficiencies and saving thousands of labor hours annually. What once took 700 hours of employees’ time per week now takes less than five hours.
With three RPA systems currently in place at DPS, each renewal is complete in a few minutes. The return on investment for DPS is $873,600 per year and will continue to save money for the agency, allowing more funds for other projects as needed.
This is just the beginning for RPA and Oklahoma state agencies. DPS already plans to use the UiPath RPA solution for a phase two project to include specialty license types.
“There are multiple opportunities for RPA at DPS and other Oklahoma agencies,” Hughes said. “The number of manual processes could be significantly reduced, which would reduce time and save taxpayers money.”
Many other Oklahoma agencies could use RPA to save time and money and simplify processes for both state employees and citizens.
Have an RPA project idea or request? Visit oklahoma.gov/projects to submit it.
Read more about the driver’s license renewal process on the DPS website.