Here’s how the government’s AI and tech hiring surge is going so far

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Federal civilian agencies are aiming to hire 500 feds with AI expertise in fiscal year 2025.

Government agencies have hired over 150 individuals into AI and AI-enabling roles since President Biden signed his AI-focused executive order last fall, and agencies intend to hire over 500 more in fiscal 2025, according to a new report from the AI and Tech Talent Task Force released Friday. 

Set up by the Biden White House’s sweeping AI executive order last fall, the task force is meant to spur the hiring of AI talent, as agencies look to leverage the tech within government, build regulatory and policy capacity and strengthen the research and development ecosystem.

Recruiting and hiring data and computer scientists, product managers, civil rights professionals and others — and training existing feds — will be foundational to the government’s success in grappling with AI, experts have told Nextgov/FCW.

The new report also digs into tech talent programs in government, such as the Presidential Innovation Fellows, U.S. Digital Service and U.S. Digital Corps, that have also been tasked with onboarding AI talent and are expected to bring in 94 hires total between last fall and the end of the summer.

The Department of Defense is also looking to hire over 2,500 AI professionals this year and more than 9,000 next year.

The task force says that interest in government tech work has surged since the release of the executive order, with applicants for AI roles doubling this year so far as compared to 2022 and 2023.

USDS in particular has seen an over 2,000% increase in applicants, according to the report, as compared to “previous cycles or periods.”

It looks like the government will need to continue tapping into that demand — the report states that agencies say they’ll need over 350 additional AI hires on top of the planned 500 to meet current needs.

The Office of Personnel Management has already outlined tools, such as direct hire authorities and pay flexibilities, for agencies to use in their efforts. 

The task force has also supported hiring events, including the cross-government Tech to Gov career fairs. A recent AI-focused hiring event this month brought in over 800 techies, according to the report. 

This summer, OPM, USDS and the Office of Management and Budget will be launching a pilot training effort for hiring professionals on how to recruit tech talent, according to the report.

The task force also made recommendations, including an ask for funding from Congress; the creation of a dedicated technical recruiting team to work across the government and for Congress to consider OPM’s legislative proposal meant to improve pay flexibilities for tech and cyber jobs in government. 

Skills-based hiring, the focus of a major announcement from OPM just yesterday, also gets a shout out in the report.

The task force, which has representatives from HR, tech and AI communities across government, says that it intends to leverage its momentum to “institutionalize” changes to improve government hiring for tech and AI talent across the government. 

OPM and OMB are exploring issuing guidance on the hiring process experience in government, according to the report.