Federal Government Lagging Behind on Key AI Requirements

By Victor Winston, updated on December 17, 2023

The latest findings from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reveal a significant lag in the management and reporting of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies across various federal agencies. The watchdog witness has exposed the Biden administration for their underwhelming policies regarding AI management and reporting.

This report underscores a systemic issue in the oversight and understanding of AI's role within the government.

The GAO's comprehensive review encompassed 19 federal agencies, highlighting a widespread struggle to meet established deadlines for AI management improvement.

This delay is not just a bureaucratic hiccup; it represents a significant challenge in regulating and effectively utilizing AI technologies in governmental operations.

Agencies Struggle with Comprehensive AI Data

Of particular concern is the data integrity of these agencies. Only five have provided complete and reliable information on their AI applications, Fox News reported.

The rest present a concerning picture of incomplete, inaccurate, or even misleading data. This data discrepancy is not just a matter of record-keeping but speaks volumes about transparency and accountability in the deployment of AI technologies.

As one GAO official stated, "Although certain federal agencies have taken initial steps to comply with guidance and statutory requirements, key efforts to strengthen the management of AI have missed deadlines and are not yet completed." This statement underscores the urgency of the situation.

"Without accurate inventories, the government's management of its use of AI will be hindered by incomplete and inaccurate data."

Varied Use of AI Across Agencies

The GAO report noted a significant number of AI applications already in use or planned across various agencies. Approximately 1,200 AI uses were reported by 20 out of 23 agencies. This number not only indicates the widespread adoption of AI but also the potential risks and complexities involved in its management.

Agencies such as NASA, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Energy, Health and Human Services (HHS), and the State Department lead in AI use cases. These departments, dealing with vast and varied datasets, are at the forefront of integrating AI into their operations, yet the report suggests they too struggle with effective management and reporting.

While over 200 instances of AI are actively in use, the lack of comprehensive reporting raises concerns about the effectiveness and ethical considerations of these technologies.

Legislative and International Response to AI Challenges

The findings of the GAO report come amidst a flurry of legislative activities aimed at regulating AI technology. Congress has been proactive, introducing legislation and holding bipartisan briefings with technology leaders to discuss AI policy.

Last month, the State Department announced a landmark agreement where 45 nations agreed to AI military principles. This international collaboration reflects the growing recognition of AI's impact on global security and governance.

These developments highlight a dynamic and evolving landscape of AI governance, both domestically and internationally. The focus is not just on harnessing the power of AI but also on ensuring its responsible and ethical use.

Conclusion and Reader Engagement

In summary, the GAO report reveals a concerning lag in the federal government's management and understanding of AI technologies. The findings point to:

  • Delays in AI management improvements across 19 federal agencies.
  • Inconsistent and often inaccurate data reporting on AI applications.
  • A high number of AI uses across various agencies, with leading cases in NASA, Commerce, Energy, HHS, and the State Department.
  • Increasing legislative focus and international collaboration on AI policy and principles.

Please share this article on Twitter and Facebook to spread awareness about the challenges and developments in AI governance within the federal government.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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