GSA’s Community of Practice for AI

Published: November 13, 2019

Artificial Intelligence/Machine LearningGSAPolicy and Legislation

Last week, GSA launched the Artificial Intelligence Community of Practice to garner federal employees to accelerate adoption of AI throughout the federal government.

There have been numerous activities in the federal space to help agencies acclimate Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies into their day-to-day operations and initiatives. Earlier this year, an executive order was issued to maintain U.S. leadership in AI research and development (R&D) and deployment. Since then, NITRD has updated its AI R&D strategy to better position federal investment in AI capabilities and NIST has released a framework for the development of AI technical standards and related tools. Government agencies and components, such as the DOD and Intelligence Community, have also released their own AI strategies to adopt the technology.

In the government’s latest AI move, the General Services Administration (GSA) launched the AI Community of Practice (COP) to accelerate the government-wide use of AI.

The AI COP seeks to gather federal employees who are “active in, or interested in, AI policy technology, standards, and programs to…facilitate the sharing of best practices, use cases, and lessons learned, and advance and share tools, playbooks success stories with a community of interested professionals.” The group will be out of GSA’s Technology Transformation Services (TTS) Solutions division with Federal CIO, Suzette Kent and Director of TTS, Anil Cheriyan, as its executive sponsors

According to the COP’s announcement, the group will focus on the support and coordination of AI technologies, specifically:

  • Machine Learning and deep learning
  • Robotic Process Automation
  • Human-computer interactions
  • Natural Language Processing
  • Rule based automation
  • Robotics

This government community, set to solve AI-related IT challenges, is the next step in GSA’s ultimate goal to establish an AI Center of Excellence (CoE). The new CoE will become the sixth of its kind, joining cloud, contact center, customer experience, data analytics and infrastructure optimization. The AI CoE is expected to broaden AI adoption among agencies by helping break down technical and cultural barriers and identifying areas of AI investment for immediate reward.

The launch of the community of practice ironically comes at the same time the AI in Government Act of 2018 passed by a voice vote in the Senate’s Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. The legislation calls for a similar organization within GSA to streamline an approach to agency rulemaking in AI and help ensure leverage of the technology is in the best interest of the public.

Contractors and federal employees alike will see additional pushes for AI implementation into 2020. At the Dell Technologies Forum in September 2019, Representative Will Hurd announced the intent to form a National AI Strategy by the end of his political term next year. The strategy will further coordinate AI work in government, academia and the private sector to advance investment in artificial intelligence.