Biden administration plans a multi-agency effort to surge AI recruitment

GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan is looking to attract AI talent to serve in government.

GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan is looking to attract AI talent to serve in government. Rachel Woolf/Washington Post via Getty Image

Officials at the General Services Administration celebrated their forthcoming role to help recruit an AI-fluent workforce across the government, pursuant to the EO’s priorities.

A key workforce program introduced in President Joe Biden’s landmark Artificial Intelligence Executive Order will work to spur hiring for new AI-centric positions in the public sector. The General Services Administration, Office of Personnel Management, U.S. Digital Service and talent programs at other agencies will have enhanced roles in supporting the Biden administration’s goal, under a new National AI Talent Surge in the federal government. 

In a Monday announcement, GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan expressed support for her agency’s  renewed role in cultivating more tech talent to move into public sector roles in accordance with the order’s goals. 

“GSA is proud to play key roles in supporting this executive order to help ensure the federal government leads the way in the responsible, effective use of AI,” Carnahan said. “We hope to attract many more AI experts to consider working at places like GSA and our Technology Transformation Services as well as through the governmentwide tech programs we coordinate.”

Workforce growth is a cornerstone of Biden’s AI executive order. The National AI Talent Surge itself is set to be launched within 45 days of the order’s signing, and will incorporate multiple federal agencies to hire an AI fluent workforce to assist in developing regulations, implementing AI in government operations and accelerating research and development efforts.

“The federal government will work to ensure that all members of its workforce receive adequate training to understand the benefits, risks and limitations of AI for their job functions, and to modernize federal government information technology infrastructure, remove bureaucratic obstacles, and ensure that safe and rights-respecting AI is adopted, deployed and used,” the executive order reads. 

Specific agencies charged with managing the program include OPM, the U.S. Digital Service and GSA-managed programs like the U.S. Digital Corps and Presidential Innovation Fellows. The order stipulates that within 45 days of going into effect, these programs will work in conjunction with the new AI and Technology Talent Task Force to “develop and implement” strategies to grow the AI-ready workforce in the public sector as part of the Talent Surge program.

The Task Force has several of its own deliverables under the order. These include tracking and reporting on the increasing AI capacity in the federal government, ultimately culminating in a report due to the President within 180 days.

The Task Force’s report will also highlight best practices for federal offices to attract, retain, and upskill talent and further help agencies effectively budget for workforce needs.

Other work for the Task Force will involve coordinating how to leverage fellowship and other technology talent programs to streamline hiring, and convene a separate cross-agency forum to support continued collaborations with AI professionals for more input on employee retention. 

Officials selected to serve on the AI and Technology Talent Task Force include the director of OPM; the director of  GSA’s Technology Transformation Services; a representative from the Chief Human Capital Officers Council; the assistant to the President for Presidential Personnel; members of other relevant federal agency technology talent programs; a representative of the Chief Data Officer Council; and a representative of an interagency council convened by the director of OMB to “coordinate the development and use of AI in agencies’ programs and operations.”

Carnahan added that as job opportunities open on, some will be available through GSA programs like the U.S. Digital Corps and the Presidential Innovation Fellows program. A GSA spokesperson told Nextgov/FCW that both programs will be formally included in the Talent Surge initiative. 

Ann Lewis, the director of GSA’s Technology Transformation Services, said that these and other, existing GSA programs, like the AI Center of Excellence, will continue to support AI in the public sector. 

“We are excited to support this executive order as it is taking important steps to promote the powerful and responsible use of AI in GSA’s programs and across the federal government,” Lewis, who will also serve in the AI and Technology Talent Task Force, said.