Lawmakers Propose OMB-Led AI Training Program for Government Buyers


The program would train procurement officials about artificial intelligence as a technology and its risks.

Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Gary Peters, D-Mich., introduced a bill that would require the Office of Management and Budget to equip the government’s acquisition workforce with a better grasp of the capabilities and risks associated with artificial intelligence.

The five-page AI Training Act, shared with Nextgov Monday, lays out the information and skills meant to be distilled from a proposed OMB-led program. Among a range of topics, federal participants would learn about how AI works and the science that underlies it; risks the technology poses around discrimination, privacy and more; how to identify safe and trustworthy AI; and future trends emerging on the technical landscape.

OMB would engage with scholars and relevant experts to inform the training. It would be updated every couple of years and sunset after a decade.

Agencies vary in their journeys with ever-evolving AI-based tools. Still, this bill follows recommendations from the National Security Commission on AI on the need for the government to prime its personnel on crucial elements—and particularly, those who buy and manage these technologies.

“Artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly sophisticated and the government must be able to utilize this technology in an ethical way that is consistent with American values and our democracy,” Peters said. “Federal employees must be aware of the ethical implications, risks, and benefits associated with AI.”