U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, convened a hearing to examine how the federal government should update its procurement and acquisition policies to promote the responsible and effective adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) systems. During the hearing, Peters and the witnesses discussed how to ensure that the federal experts charged with purchasing these systems are best prepared to adopt and deploy AI tools, provide transparency around their use, and mitigate potential risks. This was the third hearing in a series Peters is convening on artificial intelligence to discuss how lawmakers can support American development of AI to ensure it benefits society, strengthens our nation’s competitiveness on a global stage, and helps industry and government become more effective, while limiting potential harms.
“In order to successfully and effectively purchase and use AI tools, federal agencies have to be prepared to address issues like privacy concerns about the use of federal data to train commercial models and preventing bias in government decision-making,” said Peters during his opening statement.
Peters continued: “We must be nimble whenever the government collaborates with the private sector, but this is especially true with AI, where new developments emerge almost every single day and tools that are purchased are actively learning and changing as they are used.”
To watch video of Senator Peters’ questions, click here.
During the hearing, Peters discussed the importance of using AI systems to provide more efficient services to Americans and automate routine tasks to enhance the federal workforce. The hearing discussed what the current AI procurement processes looks like, what should be prioritized when evaluating possible systems, and what agencies must do to ensure taxpayer money is spent effectively on these technologies. Peters highlighted the importance of continuing oversight into the deployment of AI systems and the need to evaluate these systems throughout the procurement process to ensure the data used for testing is secure and protected. He also highlighted the power of federal acquisition and procurement processes to shape transparent and responsible standards that could be reflected in the private sector.
Peters has been at the forefront of advancing bipartisan solutions to encourage American development of AI. Earlier this year, Peters introduced bipartisan legislation to designate a Chief AI Officer at every federal agency to coordinate responsible adoption and deployment of AI tools within agencies and across the federal government. Peters introduced bipartisan legislation to create an AI training program for federal supervisors and management officials. His bipartisan bill to 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 was signed into law last Congress. During today’s hearing, the witnesses affirmed the need to quickly implement this law.