September 27, 2018

Harris, Bipartisan Senators Introduce Legislation To Improve Federal Government’s Use Of Artificial Intelligence

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Senators Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) introduced the Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Government Act, legislation that would improve the use of AI across the federal government by providing resources and directing federal agencies to include AI in data-related planning.

“Artificial intelligence has the potential to benefit society in ways we cannot imagine today,” said Senator Harris. “We already see its immense value in applications as diverse as diagnosing cancer to routing vehicles. The AI in Government Act gives the federal government the tools and resources it needs to build its expertise and in partnership with industry and academia. The bill will help develop the policies to ensure that society reaps the benefits of these emerging technologies, while protecting people from potential risks, such as biases in AI.”


The AI in Government Act would:


  • expand an office within the General Services Administration to provide technical expertise to relevant government agencies; conduct forward-looking, original research on federal AI policy; and promote U.S. competitiveness through agency and industry cooperation;
  • establish an advisory board to address AI policy opportunities and challenges for executive agencies;
  • direct the Office of Management and Budget to establish a strategy for investing and using AI as part of the federal data strategy; and
  • direct the Office of Personnel Management to identify skills and competencies for AI and establish a new or update an existing occupational series.


The legislation has been endorsed by BSA, Center for Democracy and Technology, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, Intel, Lincoln Network, Microsoft, Niskanen Center, and R Street Institute.


“As artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies become more common, the government must look ahead to the role it will play as both an adopter and a regulator of these technologies,” said Chris Calabrese, vice president of policy for the Center for Democracy and Technology. “Carefully considering its own uses of AI would allow the federal government to offer services in better and smarter ways, support and improve AI research, and avoid pitfalls like bias in automated decisions. CDT applauds the ‘AI in Government Act’ and hopes it can bring about a comprehensive approach to representing the public interest as the government adopts and deploys new technologies.”


“Creating a Tech Policy Lab and an advisory board to guide the government on emerging technologies is fundamental to establishing needed policies for use of AI, like facial recognition,” said Fred Humphries, corporate vice president of U.S. government affairs for Microsoft. “This bill is a good approach.”