There's a new possible solution to the problem of exploding government waste---robots. A new study from the British think tank Reform finds that 90% of government civil service jobs there could be replaced by robots, saving the government an estimated $8 billion per year. The study says robots are more efficient than humans in things like data collection, paperwork processing, and other routine tasks.
The idea of a robo-government is intriguing to small government advocates on this side of the pond. "There are numerous functions that can be better performed through automation than by individuals, and given the size and scope of the federal government, that might be a very interesting place to start," says Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste. "Everything should be on the table in terms of modernizing the federal government to meet the needs of Americans in the 21st Century."
While the idea of robots replacing thousands of government bureaucrats may seem attractive to some, actually doing it could prove much more difficult. Schatz points out that our government is still far behind the robot or automation stage. "It's an $80 billion information technology budget here in Washington, and overall about 75% of it goes for supporting old systems," he says. "They should pull the plug on these systems, and update."
Updated systems or not, the government may not even need an army of robots to accomplish its work. Schatz believes ultimately there is still a preferable way to trim government waste without bureau-bots. "I think some people would argue, even better--just don't replace (government employees) at all, and make the government smaller and more efficient," he says.