Committee Approves Portman, Schatz, Gardner, Harris Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Federal Government’s Use of Artificial Intelligence

November 6, 2019 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Kamala Harris (D-CA) announced the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has approved their bipartisan Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Government Act, legislation that would improve the effectiveness of the federal government by ensuring that the government’s use of AI and automated processes are ethical and accountable, and that the government has the necessary technical expertise to successfully use AI.

“Artificial intelligence will have significant impacts on our country, economy, and society,” said Senator Portman, Co-Chair of the Senate AI Caucus. “Ensuring that our government has the capabilities and expertise to help navigate those impacts will be important in the coming years and decades. I’m pleased the committee has approved this bipartisan legislation to ensure our government understands the benefits and pitfalls of this technology as it engages in a responsible, accountable rollout of AI, and I urge my colleagues to support it when it comes the floor for a vote.”

“In order to take full advantage of AI technology, the federal government has to get smarter about it,” said Senator Schatz, the ranking member of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet. “This bill ensures that federal agencies have a coordinated strategy to advance AI in a responsible way that mitigates potential bias and other negative unintended consequences.” 

“Artificial intelligence presents enormous opportunities for improving the world around us but also poses serious challenges,” said Senator Gardner. “Our bill will bring agencies, industry, and others to the table to discuss government adoption of artificial intelligence and emerging technologies. We need a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges these technologies present for federal government use and this legislation would put us on the path to achieve that goal.”

“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. I am encouraged by the committee’s action on this bill, which puts us one step closer to developing the policies to ensure that society reaps the benefits of these emerging technologies, while protecting people from potential risks, such as biases in AI.” 

NOTE: The AI in Government Act will: 

  • expand an AI Center of Excellence within the General Services Administration to provide technical expertise to relevant government agencies; advise agencies on the procurement of AI technology; and promote U.S. competitiveness through agency and industry cooperation;
  • direct the Office of Management and Budget to establish guidance for the federal government’s to ensure agencies to use AI systems in an ethical and accountable manner;
  • direct the Office of Personnel Management to identify skills and competencies for AI, and establish a new, or update an existing, occupational series for AI-intensive jobs in the government. 

###