DHS AI Corps hires an initial 10 experts

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas says DHS has received more than 6,000 “expressions of interest” in joining the AI Corps.

The Department of Homeland Security has hired an initial cohort of 10 artificial intelligence experts to join its new AI Corps.

DHS announced the 10 hires this week after first unveiling plans to set up the AI Corps this past February. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the corps’ experts will help DHS pursue its ambitious AI agenda.

“We are leaning forward in our use of AI to advance our mission,” Mayorkas said in a recent interview. “We have a number of pilots. We are leading the federal government in harnessing AI to advance the work.”

Mayorkas said DHS has seen more than 6,000 “expressions of interest” in joining the corps.
“It’s been tremendous,” he said. “We see a greater thirst for public service in the tech sector.”

The 10 experts and some of their most recent experience are below:

  • Sadaf Asrar, former AI technology expert for the National Center for Education Statistics
  • Zach Fasnacht, former senior manager of product management at PricewaterhouseCoopers; former digital projects coordinator at the Library of Congress
  • Pramod Gadde, former machine learning lead and founder of several healthcare-related startups, including Confidante
  • Sean Harvey, former lead on YouTube’s Trust and Safety team
  • Jenny Kim, former principal product manager at McKinsey & Company; former DHS Digital Service and the Defense Digital Service
  • Babatunde Oguntade, former senior principal data scientist at CACI International
  • Christine Palmer, former chief technology officer of the U.S. Naval Observatory
  • Stephen Quirolgico, former computer scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology
  • Raquel Romano, former senior director of engineering at Fora; former engineering lead at U.S. Digital Service
  • Robin Rosenberger, former director of interagency IT, data, and analytics initiatives in the Defense Department’s Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office

DHS plans to hire a total of 50 experts to its AI Corps this year. The department plans to employ a model similar to the U.S. Digital Service, where experts are “farmed out” across the department to help advance specific projects.

DHS Chief Information Officer and Chief AI Officer Eric Hysen has said the department will take an “aggressive approach” to recruiting AI experts.

“The new talent joining DHS will help empower our workforce to quickly leverage AI technology in their efforts to safeguard our nation,” Hysen said in a statement today. “The range of professional and academic experiences these new hires bring to the federal government, some for the first time, will go a long way in our efforts to modernize our services. The AI Corps will help transform the way people interact with the government.”

Boyce leading DHS AI Corps

DHS also recently announced former Office of Management and Budget official Michael Boyce to lead the AI Corps. In the release today, DHS said Boyce helped write the section on federal use of generative AI in President Joe Biden’s October 2023 AI executive order.

Boyce also previously served as chief of innovation and design in U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s Refugee, Asylum and International Operations Directorate.

“I’m honored to join and lead this team alongside such talented individuals; the first of several additions to what will become largest and most dynamic civilian AI team in the federal government,” Boyce said in a statement. “AI is the most important technology of our time and it is going to change how we do our critical work to serve the American people. We have a big responsibility to develop and use AI in ways that take advantage of its potential while protecting privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties.”

DHS has named several discrete areas where officials think AI and machine learning could be applied, including in countering fentanyl networks, combating child sexual exploitation and abuse, and delivering immigration services.

The department’s AI roadmap lays out several pilot projects planned for 2024. USCIS, for instance, plans to use large language models to help train refugee, asylum and international operations officers. The technology will help train them on “how to conduct interviews with applicants for lawful immigration,” according to the roadmap.

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