US Vice President Kamala Harris announced a spread of recent policies regulating how federal agencies use AI of their operations.

The latest policies follow President Biden’s announcement of his Executive Order on AI in October last 12 months. The US government is making efforts to calm fears over how government agencies will use AI technologies, which many view with suspicion.

The policies drafted by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) require federal agencies to:

  • Address risks from the usage of AI
  • Expand transparency of AI use
  • Advance responsible AI innovation
  • Grow the AI workforce
  • Strengthen AI governance

Address risks

Federal agencies might want to discover and manage AI risks to make certain the usage of AI doesn’t impact the rights or safety of residents.

By 1 December 2024, all federal agencies could have to implement “concrete safeguards” that address potential risks like algorithmic discrimination and other impacts on society.

Giving people in an airport the flexibility to opt out from the usage of TSA facial recognition, ensuring human oversight in healthcare, or detecting fraud in government services, shall be mandatory when AI is used.

Agencies that will not be in a position to implement these safeguards could have to stop using the respective AI tool.

Expand transparency

The policy mandates that every one federal agencies publicly release a listing of the AI tools they employ. They could have to discover use cases that impact rights or safety and the way they’re being addressed.

The draft guidance on how agencies will report on this excludes cases where AI is “used as a component of a National Security System or inside the Intelligence Community.”

Even in these excluded cases, agencies might want to report on metrics of the AI systems they use, notify the general public of those exempted AI use cases, and justify why they’re exempted.

An interesting requirement is that federal agencies could have to “release government-owned AI code, models, and data, where such releases don’t pose a risk to the general public or government operations.”

Advance responsible AI innovation

The recent policies highlight the US government’s commitment to deploying AI technologies in a wide selection of applications.

The announcement said that the federal government would remove unnecessary barriers to permit easier deployment of AI in applications reminiscent of addressing the climate crisis, natural disaster response, public healthcare, and public transport.

The OMB’s policies encourage “agencies to responsibly experiment with generative AI,” while following guidance on the right way to accomplish that safely.

Grow the AI workforce

By Summer 2024, the Biden-Harris Administration has committed to hiring 100 AI professionals as a part of its program to make sure the secure and trustworthy deployment of AI in federal agencies.

Big Tech AI corporations are engaged in a high-stakes battle for AI talent, and it seems the US government understands that it won’t be easy to draw and retain the precise people to fill those 100 spots.

It shall be running a profession fair next month and has issued guidance on pay and leave flexibilities specifically for AI roles.

To attract staff to those roles, agencies can offer them upfront pay incentives, relocation incentives, flexible and distant working hours, and extra annual leave.

Strengthen AI governance

Federal agencies might want to designate Chief AI Officers to make sure accountability, leadership, and oversight of the usage of AI of their operations.

“We have directed all federal agencies to designate a chief AI officer with the experience, expertise, and authority to oversee all — I’m going to emphasise that — all AI technologies utilized by that agency,” Harris said during her announcement on Wednesday.

They will even have to ascertain an AI Governance Board to coordinate and govern the usage of AI across the agency.

OMB Director Shalanda Young said, “AI presents not only risks, but additionally tremendous opportunity to enhance public services and make progress on societal challenges like addressing climate change, improving public health and advancing equitable economic opportunity.”

The recent AI policies aim to assist federal agencies unlock that potential while protecting the rights and safety of the people the agencies serve.

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