Government tracking AI to ensure safe, ethical use

October 30, 2023

As artificial intelligence continues to grow, multiple levels of federal government are trying to figure out how to incorporate AI safely and effectively. To that end, agencies are now required to track and make public how they’ve been using the technology.

That effort is governed by the National AI Advisory Committee (NAIAC), which consists of experts from across the private sector, academia, non-profits and civil society. The NAIAC was created by the National AI Initiative Act of 2020 and is administered by the U.S Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Because AI has no physical borders, it’s imperative users understand how to use it both ethically and legally, the NAIAC said in a press release. Aligning standards and best practices governmentwide is a crucial first step in ensuring the technology is used responsibly, it said.

“A framework for AI governance must start by evaluating an AI system’s potential risks and benefits in a particular use case and for a particular audience,” the NAIAC said. “Only then can we determine whether and how to proceed with its development or deployment and ensure that AI systems are worthy of our trust.”

Agency-use reports have been published on The website provides detailed reports that show how 26 government departments are using AI. The reports also disclose what stage of development the projects are in. Some departments — such as the General Services Administration (GSA), Department of Agriculture, NASA and the Department of Transportation — are using the tech extensively.

For example, the GSA has created an automated machine-learning tool, called CALI, to help contracting officers evaluate vendor proposals against solicitation requirements during source selections.

The Agriculture Department’s extensive AI use ranges from operations and management to development and acquisition. Basic operational uses include a model that reviews and classifies the descriptions of expenses tagged to repairs and maintenance. Another project involves a machine-learning prototype to use AI to forecast water supply of western U.S. rivers.

The NAIAC spent the first year of its three-year term understanding the effort and resources required to advise about AI concerns and opportunities. Next steps include exploring areas such as potential impacts on the workforce, opportunities for international collaboration and making sure more people can benefit from the technology, especially generative AI.

Generative AI has the ability to leverage large language models and trillions of parameters to generate unique content that could affect the future of education, workforce development, medicine, culture and commerce, as well as democracy, diplomacy and national security, the NAIAC said.

Miles Smith

Miles Smith has more than two decades of communications experience in the public and private sectors, including several years of covering local governments for various daily and weekly print publications. His scope of work includes handling public relations for large private-sector corporations and managing public-facing communications for local governments.

Smith has recently joined the team as a content writer for SPI’s news publications, which include Texas Government Insider, Government Contracting Pipeline and its newest digital product, Government Market News, which launched in September 2023. He graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s in journalism.

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