Portman Applauds Committee Passage of Bipartisan Legislation to Help Improve Federal Workforce’s Understanding of Artificial Intelligence

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, applauded the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee for passing bipartisan legislation he introduced with Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) that will help bolster the federal workforce’s understanding of artificial intelligence (AI). The bill will create a training program to help federal employees responsible for purchasing AI technologies better understand the risks and benefits it poses to the American people. It will 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.  

“We need a federal acquisition workforce that understands AI, how it works, how it can help the government run better, and the ways we can fix the problems with AI systems so those procurement professionals can know they are buying the right AI systems for the government,” said Portman. “That’s why I applaud the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee for passing this bipartisan bill to establish the kind of AI training program our acquisition workforce needs and I urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan legislation when it comes to the Senate floor for a vote.” 

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 will help train federal employees who purchase and manage AI technology for government agencies to ensure it is being used for the betterment of all American communities. 

The bipartisan bill will 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 will also ensure that OMB is tracking the participation and feedback of participants to identify possible ways to improve the training.