US requires AI oversight in federal agencies

Government in Washington is taking steps to ensure responsible and transparent use of AI across federal agencies.

 Boat, Transportation, Vehicle, Art

The US government has unveiled new guidelines requiring all federal agencies to appoint senior leaders to oversee their use of AI systems. The Vice President of US, Kamala Harris, announced the directive, emphasising the importance of responsible AI utilisation across government sectors. Agencies must establish AI governance boards to coordinate usage and submit annual reports detailing AI systems, associated risks, and mitigation strategies.

The designated chief AI officers within agencies will oversee AI technologies, ensure responsible deployment, and address potential risks. While not necessarily political appointees, these officers will play a crucial role in governing AI adoption. Governance boards are set to be established by the summer, expanding on prior policies outlined in the Biden administration’s AI executive order.

Some agencies have already begun hiring chief AI officers, with the Department of Justice appointing Jonathan Mayer as its first CAIO to lead AI integration efforts in law enforcement. Additionally, the government aims to recruit 100 AI professionals by summer, bolstering its AI talent pool. Agencies must monitor AI systems regularly, submit inventories of AI products used, and verify compliance with safety standards and algorithmic discrimination safeguards.

Why does it matter?

Under the new guidance, government-owned AI models, code, and data are expected to be made public unless posing operational risks. Despite the progress in AI governance within federal agencies, the US still needs comprehensive AI regulations. While the AI executive order provides guidelines, legislative efforts to regulate and oversee government agencies’ use or misuse of AI technologies remain limited.

IRS’s alleged misuse of AI

Given the ongoing investigation initiated by US House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan, there is growing scrutiny into whether federal agencies employ AI technology to improve their services or misuse AI potential, such as the IRS allegedly (mis)using AI tools to surveil taxpayers nationwide. The inquiry comes in response to recent concerns regarding reports suggesting potential legal overreach by the IRS through mass surveillance of citizens’ bank accounts using AI without proper due process.