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U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

07/30/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 07/30/2021 18:08

Portman, Peters Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Help Improve Federal Workforce’s Understanding of Artificial Intelligence

Portman, Peters Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Help Improve Federal Workforce's Understanding of Artificial Intelligence

Legislation Would Require Training for Federal Employees Who Procure and Manage Artificial Intelligence Technology to Ensure It Is Used Safely and Ethically

Friday, July 30, 2021

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Gary Peters (D-MI), Ranking Member and Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced bipartisan legislation that would help bolster the federal workforce's understanding of artificial intelligence (AI). The bill would create a training program to help federal employees responsible for purchasing AI technologies better understand the risks and benefits it poses to the American people. It would also help ensure the United States maintains a global leadership role in rapidly-developing technologies as foreign competitors like the Chinese government continue to prioritize investments in AI technologies.

'We need a federal acquisition workforce that understands AI, how it works, how it can help the government run better, and the ways we can fix the problems with AI systems so those procurement professionals can know they are buying the right AI systems for the government,'said Senator Portman.'That's why we are introducing this bipartisan bill to establish the kind of AI training program our acquisition workforce needs and I urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan legislation.'

'Artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly sophisticated and the government must be able to utilize this technology in an ethical way that is consistent with American values and our democracy,'said Senator Peters. 'Federal employees must be aware of the ethical implications, risks, and benefits associated with AI. This important legislation will help protect our national security, help us remain competitive in the long run, and make sure AI technology is used properly.'

The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence has raised the need to train the federal workforce on AI, especially those who procure and manage these technologies. While there are clear benefits to using AI, experts remain concerned that if used improperly, this technology could harm U.S. citizens and compromise national security. The Artificial Intelligence Training for the Acquisition Workforce Act would help train federal employees who purchase and manage AI technology for government agencies to ensure it is being used for the betterment of all American communities.

The bipartisan bill would require the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to provide and regularly update an AI training program for federal employees who manage and purchase this technology for the federal government. The training aims to help federal employees better understand the benefits of AI, as well as the ethical and national security risks posed by these technologies. The legislation also encourages the OMB director to work with scholars and experts from the public and private sectors to create the training. It would also ensure that OMB is tracking the participation and feedback of participants to identify possible ways to improve the training.

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