Peters and Portman Bill to Help Improve Federal Workforce’s Understanding of Artificial Intelligence Heads to President to be Signed into Law

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Legislation authored by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Rob Portman (R-OH), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, that would help bolster the federal workforce’s understanding of artificial intelligence (AI) has passed the House. The bill would create a training program to help federal employees responsible for purchasing and managing AI technologies better understand the capabilities and risks they pose 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. The legislation, which passed the Senate in December of last year and was led through the House by U.S. Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY-12), Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, now heads to the President to be signed into law.

“Federal workers need to understand how artificial intelligence could affect the safety, security, and freedoms of Americans,” said Senator Peters. “This commonsense, bipartisan legislation will train our federal workforce to better understand this technology, and ensure that it is used ethically and in way that is consistent with our nation’s values. Now that it has passed the House – I urge the President to sign it into law as soon as possible.”

“When the government purchases AI to improve government functions, we need to know that the AI we buy actually works and meets standards for ethics and safety,” said Senator Portman. “That’s why I’m pleased the House has passed the AI Training Act. This bipartisan legislation will train our procurement professionals about the ins and outs of AI so they can discern which AI systems are useful to the government and which are not.”

“For federal workers to fully safeguard against the risks and realize the benefits of AI in the workplace, increased attention is needed at all stages of education, training, and workforce development,” said Rep. Maloney. “I’m proud that this critical bipartisan bill—which keeps privacy and civil liberties protections at the forefront—will soon be headed to the President’s desk.”

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 used appropriately.

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.

The legislation builds on Peters and Portman’s efforts to ensure AI is used safely and ethically. The senators’ bipartisan legislation to secure and protect information handled by federal contractors using artificial intelligence (AI) technology, such as biometric data from facial recognition scans, has advanced in the Senate. A Portman-Peters provision to ensure that the use of AI across the federal government is effective, ethical, and accountable by providing resources and guidance to federal agencies was signed into law as a part of last year’s government funding bill.