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Top Trends in AI for Federal Government

Jason Adolf, Industry Vice President - Global Public Sector
January 31, 2024

AI is emerging as an important tool for meeting the mission at federal government agencies. It can add efficiency and aid decision-making by:

  • Automating routine tasks.

  • Quickly analyzing vast amounts of data.

  • Addressing complex challenges in diverse areas.

  • Optimizing processes across sectors.

Use cases for AI in federal government.

Many government agencies are already using AI processes. Below are some important use cases for AI in federal government:

  • Case management. AI chatbots quickly unlock key insights and summarize them to provide a concise yet thorough overview of the case.

  • Procurement. AI tools auto-generate documents, perform market research, extract key insights, apply the correct clauses, and automatically file documents in the right folders.

  • Supply chain management. AI can predict demand, improve inventory management, and ensure efficient distribution of resources.

  • Public health. AI can analyze population health data to identify trends, predict disease outbreaks, and optimize public health interventions.

And that’s just a small sample of the ways federal agencies are using AI. Thousands more use cases have been identified related to national security, healthcare, transportation, and more.

Like all new technologies—think, the early days of the internet and cryptocurrency markets—unchecked AI can lead to great innovation but also raises concerns about misuse or unintended consequences. 

Due to the flurry of new AI activity, the White House recently penned an AI executive order to establish a framework for responsible AI use within the federal government. It emphasizes the importance of ethical considerations, data protection, transparency, and collaboration across agencies to ensure that AI technologies contribute positively to public services and governance.

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AI in federal government: 6 top trends.

The AI executive order has spurred federal agencies into action in a few ways. Let’s explore the top AI trends at federal government agencies.

1. AI talent search.

The executive order explicitly called for more hiring of AI professionals as part of a governmentwide talent search. Recognizing the pivotal role that AI plays in advancing government programs from healthcare to national security, the government is on a mission to recruit skilled AI professionals. The overarching objectives include fostering innovation, enhancing public services, and maintaining a competitive edge in the global technological landscape. 

By actively seeking to hire AI experts, the federal government aims to build a robust workforce capable of driving AI initiatives, implementing cutting-edge solutions, and addressing complex challenges that require the expertise of talented individuals in the field. This proactive approach reflects the government's commitment to staying at the forefront of technological advancements and leveraging AI to improve governance and service delivery.

2. AI innovation.

The AI executive order underscores the federal government's commitment to fostering AI innovation across agencies, recognizing the transformative potential of artificial intelligence in addressing complex challenges and enhancing public services. The government's emphasis on promoting AI innovation is driven by the desire to harness cutting-edge technologies to improve efficiency, decision-making processes, and overall governance. By encouraging innovation in AI, federal agencies aim to stay at the forefront of technological advancements, ensuring that the government is equipped to meet the evolving needs of citizens and address emerging issues.

[ Watch the fireside chat with GovExec, AWS, and Appian about how AI and Automation solve the greatest challenges in government case management. ]

Federal government agencies are actively promoting innovation in AI through initiatives that include research and development investments, collaborations with industry partners, and the establishment of AI-focused task forces. These efforts are geared towards creating an environment that nurtures creativity and technological advancement. Additionally, agencies are engaging in pilot programs to assess the feasibility and impact of AI applications, with a focus on responsible and ethical deployment. By actively supporting AI innovation, federal government agencies seek to drive progress, improve services, and maintain a leadership position in the global AI landscape.

3. Democratization of AI.

In a significant workplace shift, democratizing AI enables non-technical users to seamlessly integrate AI capabilities into their professional roles. This paradigm aims to break down the traditional barriers that have limited access to AI technologies, empowering the broader government community to leverage the benefits of artificial intelligence. User-friendly AI tools and platforms are emerging, designed with intuitive interfaces that require minimal technical expertise. This accessibility allows individuals with diverse roles to harness the power of AI for data analysis, decision support, and automation without the need for advanced programming skills.

As AI becomes more democratized, business users can actively contribute to innovation within their respective domains. This shift fosters a more inclusive approach to AI adoption, unlocking creativity and problem-solving potential across various industries. By facilitating broader participation in AI-driven processes, democratization not only enhances individual job functions but also contributes to a more dynamic and collaborative landscape, where organizations stand to benefit from a richer pool of insights and perspectives.

4. AI safety and security.

Federal agencies in the United States are taking concerted actions to reduce the risk of harm for AI applications within their domains. This involves the implementation of rigorous cybersecurity measures to protect AI systems from potential threats and unauthorized access. Agencies are investing in advanced encryption methods, secure data storage, and continuous monitoring protocols to fortify the resilience of AI infrastructure. 

To ensure that only confirmed, vetted data is used to inform AI tools and safeguard government data from being shared by public datasets, government agencies should use a private AI model.

[ Download Implementing Private AI: A Practical Guide to learn how to gain all the benefits of AI tools without compromising data privacy. ]

5. AI ethics and fairness.

Federal agencies are prioritizing the development of and adherence to ethical guidelines and standards for AI deployment. This includes efforts to promote transparency in decision-making processes and safeguard individual privacy. Regular audits and assessments should be conducted to evaluate the safety and ethical implications of AI applications, ensuring that federal agencies remain at the forefront of responsible AI governance.

Agencies are also addressing algorithmic bias, where AI systems can inherit biases present in training data, which can lead to unfair or discriminatory outcomes. Federal agencies must address bias to ensure that AI applications do not disproportionately impact certain groups or reinforce existing inequities. 

6. AI collaboration and standards.

Collaboration across federal agencies and the establishment of standards for AI adoption are gaining importance as a requirement of modern government applications. This includes sharing best practices, data, and fostering a collaborative ecosystem for responsible AI development and deployment. This aligns with the US government’s software modernization policy, which encourages federal agencies to leverage applications deployed at other departments, with the goal of reducing development time and costs. 

The transformative nature of AI.

AI has the potential to transform the business of government. It holds the promise of streamlining administrative tasks, automating routine processes, and enhancing overall efficiency. 

From data analysis to decision-making, AI applications can significantly reduce the bureaucratic burden, allowing government agencies to allocate resources more strategically and deliver services with increased speed and accuracy. This transformative impact extends beyond internal operations to citizen interactions, where AI-driven chatbots and virtual assistants can improve accessibility and responsiveness.

In the domain of national security, AI presents unprecedented opportunities to bolster defense capabilities and intelligence efforts. Advanced analytics and machine learning algorithms can analyze vast datasets to identify patterns, detect anomalies, and predict potential threats. AI-powered autonomous systems offer the potential for more effective surveillance, reconnaissance, and strategic decision-making. 

However, the integration of AI in national security also raises ethical and security considerations, necessitating a careful balance between technological advancements and responsible governance to ensure the safeguarding of democratic values and citizen privacy. Ultimately, the transformative potential of AI in government and national security lies in its ability to enhance agility, precision, and strategic foresight in addressing complex challenges.

For more in-depth analysis of 2024 AI trends and practical advice on how to implement AI effectively and securely, download the 2024 AI Outlook. You’ll get expert advice from eight industry leaders on how to best navigate the AI landscape.