Lawmakers propose training program for federal officials on AI risks and rewards

A Senate bill co-sponsored by Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) would require artificial intelligence training for federal workforce leadership.

A Senate bill co-sponsored by Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) would require artificial intelligence training for federal workforce leadership. MTStock Studio / Getty Images

The AI Leadership Training Act seeks to ensure that federal workforce leadership has the necessary skills and training to implement AI into their organizations.

A new Senate bill would require artificial intelligence training for federal workforce leadership as part of an effort to ensure the safe and effective use of the emerging technology. 

The AI Leadership Training Act proposes to establish a training program for federal government supervisors and management officials to help agencies understand the risks and benefits associated with AI technologies. 

Under the bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.), the director of the Office of Personnel Management would establish the training program no more than one year after the enactment of the legislation and regularly update it to keep up with AI advancements at least once every two years.

According to the bill’s language, the training program would include introductory concepts, potential benefits of AI, “the role of data in AI systems and the risks of not using sufficiently representative training data in the systems,” the need for continuous refinement of the technology, the ways AI can fail, how to mitigate risks and organizational considerations for developing and deploying it in agencies. 

"As the federal government continues to invest in and use artificial intelligence tools, decision-makers in the federal government must have the appropriate training to ensure this technology is used responsibly and ethically,” said Peters in a statement on Monday. 

He added that the training program will allow federal officials to gain "the expertise needed to ensure this technology benefits the American people and to mitigate potential harms such as bias or discrimination.”

The proposed legislation comes after recent calls from organizations like the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence and the National AI Advisory Committee to expand AI training programs for federal employees. Sen. Peters previously introduced legislation to establish AI training for procurement officials across federal agencies that are tasked with buying AI tools and technologies. 

Lawmakers are increasingly moving to provide oversight and regulation for AI amid its rapid advancement and adoption across both the public and private sectors. In a statement, Sen. Braun noted the "unprecedented development" and implementation of AI tools in recent years and added: "We must ensure that government leaders are trained to keep up with the advancements in AI and recognize the benefits and risks of this tool."

NSCAI recently recommended the federal government integrate ethical and responsible AI training and share training courses with U.S. law enforcement organizations. The organization also called on the federal government to establish a national security point of contact for AI to promote collaboration and interoperability around the use of AI. 

Under the legislation, which was referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on May 11, the training program would sunset 10 years after its enactment.