NSA, DOD Watchdogs Partner to Complete Joint Evaluation of Certain Federal AI Use


It comes after a previous assessment was terminated.

Two federal oversight divisions are set to cooperatively and comprehensively assess the National Security Agency's integration of artificial intelligence into signals intelligence operations, which involve collecting insights from foreign communications, information or weapon systems.

In a recently published memorandum, the Defense Department’s Inspector General confirmed alongside the NSA’s IG that the two entities are conducting a joint evaluation to look deep into the security agency’s AI-aligned signals intelligence efforts—and specifically, if they are unfolding in accordance with DOD- and Intelligence Community-produced guidance regarding the emerging technology. 

Some of those resources likely include the Framework and Principles of AI Ethics for the Intelligence Community and the DOD’s Ethical Principles for AI.

The memo was sent to the National Intelligence Director, Defense Under Secretary for Intelligence and Security, DOD Chief Information Officer and NSA Director on August 6. 

“We may revise the objective as the evaluation proceeds, and we will also consider suggestions from DOD and National Security Agency management on additional or revised objectives,” the officials wrote. 

This evaluation will occur at the NSA. 

Defense’s IG originally announced it was conducting a review on this matter in August 2020. But last month, officials revealed they were terminating that evaluation to launch a new, collaborative one directly with the NSA’s top watchdog.

“The DOD Office of Inspector General considers a variety of factors when determining when to conduct oversight work or cancel previously announced work,” an official from its public affairs office told Nextgov on Wednesday. “In this case, given the objective as stated in our announcement memo, we determined that it is a better use of taxpayer resources to conduct our oversight jointly with the National Security Agency.”