Peters and Portman Bipartisan Legislation to Help Improve Federal Workforce’s Understanding of Artificial Intelligence Passes Senate

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

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 Senate. 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 bill now moves to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.

“In order to use artificial intelligence properly and in a way that ensures our nation can compete with our foreign adversaries – federal workers need to understand the technical and ethical implications of these technologies for the safety, security, and freedoms of Americans,” said Senator Peters. “This important bill will help our government better understand artificial intelligence and ensure we are using it in a manner that is consistent with American values and our democracy.”

“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 Senate 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.”

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 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.

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.

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