Every US Federal Agency Must Hire A Chief AI Officer

All US federal agencies will now be required to have a senior leader overseeing all AI systems they use, as the government wants to ensure that AI use in the public service remains safe, The Verge reported.

According to The Verge, Vice President Kamala Harris announced the new Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidance in a briefing with reporters and said that agencies must also establish AI governance boards to coordinate how AI is used within the agency. Agencies will also have to submit an annual report to the OMB listing all AI systems they use, any risks associated with these, and how they plan on mitigating these risks.

“We have directed all federal agencies to designate a chief AI officer with the experience, expertise, and authority to oversee all AI technologies used by that agency, and this is to make sure that AI is used responsibly, understanding that we must have senior leaders across out government, who are specifically tasked with overseeing AI adoption and use,” Harris told reporters.

The chief AI officer does not necessarily have to be a political appointee, though it depends on the federal agency’s structure. Governance boards must be created by the summer.

ArsTechnica reported the White House has announced the “first government-wide policy to mitigate risks of artificial intelligence (AI) and harness its benefits.” To coordinate these efforts, every federal agency must appoint a chief AI officer with “significant expertise in AI.”

Some agencies have already appointed chief AI officers, but any agency that has not must appoint a senior official over the next 60 days. If an official already appointed as a chief AI officer does not have the necessary authority to coordinate AI use in the agency, they must be granted additional authority or else a new chief AI officer must be named.

Ideal candidates, the White House recommended, might include chief information officers, chief data officers, or chief technology officers, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) policy said. 

As chief AI officers, appointees will serve as senior advisors on AI initiatives, monitoring and inventorying all agency uses of AI. They must conduct risk assessments to consider whether any AI uses are impacting “safety, security, civil rights, civil liberties, privacy, democratic values, human rights, equal opportunities, worker well-being, access to critical resources and services, agency trust and credibility, and market competition,” the OMB said.

Engadget reported that Vice President Kamala Harris said, “I believe that all leaders of the government, civil society, and the private sector have a moral, ethical and societal duty to make sure that artificial intelligence is adopted and advanced in a way that protects the public from harm while ensuring everyone is able to enjoy its benefits.”

In my opinion, it sounds like the use of AI within the federal government is going to be something that is very closely looked at. Ideally, the AI officers should be people who really know what they are doing.