The Federal Stance on AI | What Government Contractors Need to Know
February 13th, 2020 By TechnoMile
Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer the future. It is happening now and rapidly changing the world around us, from healthcare to transportation to manufacturing to aerospace and defense. The Federal Government recognizes the tremendous power of AI and its potential to drive significant transformation across every area of our public and private sectors. Learn about federal AI initiatives to help you win more contracts.
Executive Order 13859 – Artificial Intelligence for the American People
A year ago the President signed Executive Order 13859 and launched the American AI Initiative to promote and protect national AI technology and innovation in collaboration with the private sector, academia, the public, and our partners. The AI community has been asking our federal government to make AI development and protection a priority and see this as a positive and critical step. Many other countries, including China, South Korea, Germany, France, and Japan, have similar goals and have already announced their own national AI initiatives.
A core element of EO 13859 is to direct federal agencies to prioritize AI R&D and incorporate that priority into budget proposals for the fiscal year 2020 and beyond. The President’s 2020 Budget specifically prioritizes R&D investments for four key industries: artificial intelligence, quantum information sciences, advanced communication networks (including fifth-generation networks), and advanced manufacturing. Federal agencies are shifting their mindset to these new technologies, and moving forward will favor contractors that have this expertise and experience when awarding contracts.
That means government contractors who do not have artificial intelligence knowledge and capabilities could be at a disadvantage when bidding on federal contracts.
EO 13859 is also aimed at workforce readiness and preparing workers with new skillsets for the AI era. Those who have been working in AI realize there is a shortage of workers skilled in AI and data science and that this talent is often scooped up by the large technology companies. Therefore, a key priority of the federal government is to ramp up AI education and training to prepare workers with AI skillsets.
Artificial Intelligence Community of Practice
In response to the executive order and to help drive and accelerate a cohesive adoption of AI across the federal government, the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Federal Chief Information Officer (CIO) recently launched a government-wide AI Community of Practice (CoP) administered under the U.S. Technology Transformation Service (TTS). The goal of AI CoP is to help coordinate the planning and use of AI technologies across federal agencies in collaboration with industry, academia, partners, and the public.
AI CoP brings together federal employees who are active in AI technologies, policy standards, and programs to facilitate the sharing of AI best practices, use cases, and lessons learned—and to advance and share AI tools, techniques, playbooks, and success stories. In forming this community of practice, the government acknowledges agencies need help when dealing with new technologies. Key areas AI CoP has identified to focus on are procurement, structuring proof of concepts, data governance, privacy, security, ethics, workforce development, and leadership buy-in. In its leadership role AI CoP will also help to define AI strategies, identify gaps and challenges, and implement policies and standards of practice for AI.
Artificial Intelligence Practice Areas
Key AI practice areas AI CoP has identified to address initially are:
- AI Tools and Techniques: machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing (NLP), robotics, robotic process automation, rule-based automation, human-computer interactions/human-centered design
- Data Governance: AI-readiness, data quality/standards/architecture, security, privacy, compliance, advanced cybersecurity, cloud
- AI Ethics: Transparency, Accountability, ML Explainability, Fairness
- AI Acquisition: ROI and cost/benefit analysis, vendor selection
Artificial Intelligence Use Cases and Training
AI CoP also plans to establish a repository of AI use cases to build awareness and engagement across agencies and the broader AI community. Initially, use cases will focus on common themes (Shared Services) and include procurement, HR solutions, logistics, finance, legal, cybersecurity, customer experience, and business processes.
AI CoP also plans to engage the broader AI community—industry, academia, and other consortia—to foster training and continuous learning. Toward this effort, AI CoP plans to host quarterly sessions, as well as workshops, training, and other knowledge-sharing events on a range of issues—that will highlight speakers from the AI community. AI CoP believes collaboration spurs innovation, so they intend to be inclusive and to foster a broad and vibrant AI community.
The global race for AI dominance has begun. The US federal government realizes the importance of protecting and expanding its leadership in AI and has directed federal agencies to prioritize AI R&D and incorporate that priority into budget proposals for 2020 and beyond. As a result, federal agencies are quickly shifting their mindset to new technologies like AI and will favor contractors that have AI expertise when awarding contracts. A lack of AI experience and skillsets will put government contractors at a disadvantage. To build a competitive advantage and to win more contracts in the new era of AI, it’s essential to rethink the types of services you provide and to hone the skills and knowledge of your workforce for the new AI era.
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