The Department for Education (DfE) has created software designed to organize thousands of emails, thus decreasing the time required for public communication.


The DfE receives as many as 100,000 comments and inquiries from the public annually. Before introducing an innovative computer program, every email and letter had to be reviewed by a staff member who logged them into a database and then assigned them to the relevant team for a response. This process consumed hundreds of days of collective labour and left staff with less time for other duties.

The Knowledge Asset Solution

Recognizing the utilization of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in private sector and government contexts for data management decisions, the DfE conducted an inquiry into how this technology could enhance their efforts in organizing public inquiries. They embarked on a project to develop a robot known as “ARNOLD,” which stands for “Automated Robot Negating the Onerous Logging of Data,” aimed at optimizing certain aspects of their processes.

This presented a notable challenge, primarily because emails consist of unstructured data, and individuals do not adhere to a standard writing format. ARNOLD examines the email content and applies a set of rules to determine their priority based on potential risks. Subsequently, ARNOLD inputs this data into the DfE’s database. This automation has supplanted the manual task of entering public emails and letters, resulting in enhanced productivity and heightened efficiency.

Who has this Helped?

  • For the public: The DfE has successfully reduced response times for addressing inquiries and concerns, enabling them to provide more efficient customer service.
  • DfE staff: The implementation of the robot has liberated time for teams to concentrate on learning and professional development.

Impact of this Innovation on the Team?

Owen Roffe, who serves as the Head of Digital Communications and Public Enquiries at the DfE, expressed his satisfaction that ARNOLD swiftly integrated into the team. He remarked, “Everyone understands their respective roles and recognizes the role of technology.” Roffe further stated, “The robot has eliminated the necessity for manual data entry, which was an aspect where the team felt their contributions were less impactful. Consequently, they can now concentrate on more fulfilling tasks, enhance their skills, and deliver a faster service to our customers.”

Next Steps

In the summer of 2023, ARNOLD made a notable appearance at the Civil Service Live roadshow, demonstrating how data logging processes can be streamlined and highlighting the potential benefits this technological asset could offer to other government departments. The DfE remains committed to exploring various avenues for harnessing technology to enhance efficiency, ultimately benefiting both its staff and the public.