Quick Hits

*** The Census Bureau is looking to include new technologies in its economic survey to measure inflation. The bureau put out a request for information about optical charter recognition for its Consumer Expenditure Diary Survey -- the survey that asks households to catalogue their purchases in order to collect data needed for the Consumer Price Index.

The bureau is looking for an easy-to-navigate, Windows-based user interface and a software program that can identify hand-written text, support 30 simultaneous users and allow for the querying and export of data. Responses to the RFI are due June 7.

*** A bipartisan group of U.S. senators reintroduced the AI in Government Act, a bill to try to address opportunities and challenges brought by artificial intelligence. Sponsored by Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), the bill would establish a Center of Excellence at the General Services Administration to share technical knowledge and conduct research and charge the Office of Personnel Management with creating an occupational category for AI workers. The bill also tasks agencies with setting up governance plans to push AI while being mindful of civil liberties, privacy and civil rights.

"Ensuring that our government has the capabilities and expertise to help navigate those impacts will be important in the coming years and decades," Portman said in a statement. "This bipartisan legislation will help ensure our government understands the benefits and pitfalls of this technology as it engages in a responsible, accountable rollout of AI."

*** The volume of unmanned aircraft systems now exceeds the number of manned aircraft, the Federal Aviation Administration's Jay Merkle told the Senate Commerce Committee May 8.

The FAA began requiring the registration of unmanned aircraft systems since December 2015, and the number of unmanned systems registered is already "nearly four times" higher than that of manned systems, he said. Merkle, the executive director of the FAA's UAS integration office, said that to handle the according safety concerns of the explosion in unmanned aircrafts, his agency plans to issue a rule for the identification and tracking of these devices in July.

*** House Oversight Democrats are asking Trump administration officials to appear before the committee under the threat of taking away their salaries. In separate letters, Oversight Committee chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) is requesting interviews from five current and former Trump officials on two topics: the addition of the citizenship question on the 2020 Census, and a records request with the Department of Interior.

For the citizenship question, Cummings, along with subcommittee chair Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), addressed letters to Gene Hamilton, counselor to the attorney general at the Department of Justice; Peter Davidson, general counsel at the Department of Commerce; Earl Comstock, deputy chief of staff at Commerce; and James Uthmeier, former advisor and counsel to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Cummings also asked Interior Director of Congressional and Legislative Aaffairs Cole Rojewski to produce the requested information relating to Secretary David Bernhardt's schedule.

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