Missouri agency wants $16M to increase government chatbots

December 14, 2019 GMT


Government chatbots could soon be answering more questions from Missourians about their taxes or welfare if a proposal by an agency in Gov. Mike Parson’s administration gains traction.

The Office of Administration asked for about $16 million over the next three years to add more chatbots to the state’s call centers, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.


More chatbots answering routine government questions could free up state workers to handle other calls.

The Department of Economic Development was particularly overwhelmed with questions from residents during the height of tax season in 2017. At that time, workers at the agency’s call center only answered three out of every 10 calls.

The answer rate improved to 80% in 2018 after the agency revamped its approach.

Other state governments are moving toward automation. A report from the Center for Digital Government and the National Association of State Chief Information Officers found that about a third of states have pilot programs to test artificial intelligence in public service.

The Office of Administration’s request to Parson to ramp up use of chatbots in Missouri government is still in the early stages. Parson has not rolled out his budget proposal to lawmakers, who will start work on the state spending plan once they return to the Capitol in January for their annual five-month session.