HMRC plans artificial intelligence trials

Department looks at using AI to handle mundane processes and shift human resources into ‘higher value work’

HM Revenue & Customs is planning a series of trials on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in some of its processes, with an emphasis on customer contact and casework.

Interim chief digital and transformation officer Mike Potter (pictured) referred to the plans in a presentation to the Public Sector Show in London yesterday.

Mike PotterHe said the department plans to launch the trials in the near future as part of a move towards robotic automation and “taking the graft out of people’s jobs to focus on higher value work”.

Potter declined to provide details of the trials, saying there is a need to talk with staff before making more information public. But he said the department is exploring areas it thinks is more viable, and his presentation included a slide dividing early use cases into three groups: contact handling, to direct people to the right places without human intervention; casework, with AI being used to augment decision-making; and helping customers through effective self-service.

These are part of a broader effort for HMRC to use its data more intelligently and to supplement its processes with machine learning.

HMRC is the latest government organisation to take early steps into the use of AI. The Department of Work and Pensions has done some proof of concept work in automating processes and local authorities including Aylesbury Vale and Enfield have committed to using AI in customer services.

In February, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport included plans for research and development into AI as part of the national Digital Strategy.