Three doctors walking down corridor discussing data on a tablet computer

Public sector workers could save 23 million hours a week using AI, report finds

Public sector employees could save as much as 23 million hours a week automating routine bureaucratic processes that would then leave them freer to concentrate on higher-value activities, a new Microsoft report finds.

By adopting Generative AI (GenAI) tools, nurses, doctors, police officers, social care workers and council employees – nearly six million public sector employees as of December 2023 – could save four hours a week per person on average, the report says.

The research, developed by Dr Chris Brauer, Director of Innovation at Goldsmiths University, features in a new report from Microsoft, Harnessing the Power of AI for the Public Sector.

Banner image for Harnessing the Power of AI for the Public Sector

“Effective AI implementation can drastically reduce administrative burdens, enabling frontline workers to focus more on essential services,” says Hugh Milward, Vice President, External Affairs, Microsoft UK.

And the UK’s public sector could save £17bn by 2035 by adopting GenAI tools, but a five-year delay in implementation could see the country foregoing £150bn in economic benefit, the report warns.


Managing information and data is the administrative task that takes the biggest proportion of time across the public sector, with each worker spending, on average, more than eight hours doing so every week, the research finds.

Around 45% of public sector respondents say they are “drowning in unnecessary administrative tasks”, and 55% say bureaucracy negatively affects their ability to perform their primary job functions. Morale suffers as a result.

But using GenAI tools could save:

Doctors four hours in admin time each week (149,596 hours in total across the sector)
Nurses five hours in admin every week (1.8 million hours in total).
Teachers two hours in admin time each week (936,742 hours in total).
Police Officers 6.5 hours in admin every week (1.1 million hours in total).

‘Transformative potential’

Dr Chris Brauer said: “Rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI) mark an inflection point for public sector organisations across the world.

Nurse talking to young woman in wheelchair

“Generative AI and large language models (LLMs) wield transformative potential to reshape government operations and redefine the future of public service delivery.

“Governments cannot afford to remain frozen as AI transforms the world around us.”

Some local councils are already using Microsoft’s GenAI tools to streamline many routine tasks, from taking minutes at meetings to answering queries from the public.

Seven steps

The report also offers seven recommendations for the Government to facilitate widespread adoption of AI throughout the public sector:

  1. Establish a National AI Delivery Centre
  2. Declare ‘AI for All’ Principles
  3. Implement Comprehensive Upskilling Strategy
  4. Unlock the Power of Public Sector Data
  5. Reimagine Procurement Processes
  6. Accelerate Local Government AI Adoption
  7. Maximise Economic Opportunities

For more information on each of these recommendations you can read Harnessing the Power of AI for the Public Sector here.

Microsoft’s Hugh Milward concludes: “By acting now and investing strategically in AI, the UK can lead globally in AI innovation, driving economic growth and enhancing public services.”