Bipartisan bill looks to get acquisition workforce on board with AI

AI government 

The leaders of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee are looking to get the federal workforce – particularly program managers and acquisition specialists – on board with artificial intelligence.

A new bill, the Artificial Intelligence Training for the Acquisition Workforce Act, would set up a training program for federal workers to learn more about AI technology, from its scientific underpinnings to risks associated with its use.

"Federal employees must be aware of the ethical implications, risks, and benefits associated with AI," Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), the chair of the committee and a co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. "This important legislation will help protect our national security, help us remain competitive in the long run, and make sure AI technology is used properly."

The bill tasks the Office of Management and Budget with establishing training to help the federal workforce understand the science behind AI, how AI can benefit government programs as well as the risks associated with AI, including privacy violations and inherent bias in algorithms that power AI programs.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), the ranking member of the committee and a co-sponsor of the bill, couched his support for the measure in economic terms.

"We need a federal acquisition workforce that understands AI, how it works, how it can help the government run better, and the ways we can fix the problems with AI systems so those procurement professionals can know they are buying the right AI systems for the government," Portman said in a statement.

The bill was introduced July 29 and awaits a committee vote.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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