Could artificial intelligence lead to genuine hiring bias?

In today's Federal Newscast: Government officials think artificial intelligence could lead to a real bias in hiring. The Post Office plan to transport more mail...

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  • The intelligence community, awash in data, seeks in-demand talent to make sense of it. The intelligence community, analyzing more data than ever before, is looking to build out its workforce to keep up with emerging threats. National Security Agency Deputy Director George Barnes said the agency is looking make 2,000 new hires before the end of this year and is setting an even higher goal for hiring next year. But Barnes said NSA will need to keep up with the shifting demands of in-demand employees. “The workforce of the future has many choices, and one of the things we’re confronting is the fact that people don’t want to wait to go through the clearance process,” Barnes said. (Federal News Network)
  • Artificial intelligence, some feel, could lead to bias in hiring, but two agencies are trying to address the issue. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs are saying there’s strong potential for bias when hiring when using AI. The agencies’ HIRE initiative addresses some of the diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility concerns. OFCCP Director Jenny Yang said one group is crucial to their work: “Federal contractors have an especially important role to play in taking proactive efforts to identify potential barriers that may exclude qualified talent.” Yang’s office works with agencies to evaluate the impact of tech-based recruitment on equal employment.
  • The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency said too many small businesses are cut out of contracts that require security clearances. DARPA’s launching a new initiative to help fix that. The new program, called BRIDGES, will give companies a pathway toward getting a facility security clearance once they have made a compelling case that they can solve one of DARPA’s classified problems. The agency hopes to pilot the initiative later this year after gathering feedback from vendors. (Federal News Network)
  • There is a new bill to give the federal CXO councils more autonomy and structure. Senate lawmakers aim to give a boost to federal management with the Governmentwide Executive Councils Administration and Results Improvement Act. Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) said their legislation would make permanent and expand the Office of Executive Councils at the General Services Administration. The office helps run the federal chief information officer, chief financial officer and other similar councils. A key part of this effort would make the office independent from the normal duties and functions of GSA and more directly linked to the Office of Management and Budget, which leads the President’s Management Agenda and other priorities. The bill also would establish common responsibilities for each of the governmentwide councils to include when providing legislative and policy recommendations to OMB.
  • The Postal Service is transporting more of its mail through railroad contractors, but its partners aren’t meeting performance goals for on-time delivery. USPS launched a pilot program in 2020 to start contracting out mail transportation to rail services and then expanded the program in 2021. But the USPS inspector general’s office finds neither of its two contractors under the pilot have consistently met service performance goals. USPS, under its 10-year reform plan, is relying more on ground transportation for mail and doing less business with air delivery services the agency says are expensive and inconsistent.
  • The Senate has confirmed David Pekoske to a second term as administrator of the Transportation Security Administration. Pekoske said that a priority for this term is achieving pay equity and investing in technology. The Department of Homeland Security also had another senior member confirmed, Dimitri Kusnezov, to the role of undersecretary for science and technology. Kusnezov joins DHS from the Energy Department, where he served as undersecretary for artificial intelligence and technology.
  • Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) wants to turn up the heat on some federal agencies, literally. She has introduced the Lead By Example Act, requiring the Energy Department and EPA to set their office air conditioning to 78 degrees. It is a response to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm’s praise of California officials, who asked their state residents to set their thermostats to 78 degrees to help prevent power outages.
  • The General Services Administration released the final two solicitations for the much-anticipated small business governmentwide acquisition contract called Polaris. The requests for proposals for the HUBZone and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Pool are similar in scope to the previous two solicitations. Polaris focuses on giving agencies access to innovative, small business technology service providers. Bids for both RFPs are due by November 4.
  • Agencies will now have a better idea of how to handle Freedom of Information Act requests. New guidance explains how agencies should process FOIA requests involving Privacy Act records. It depends on whether the request is from someone looking for their own records or someone looking for third party information. There’s overlap between rules for FOIA and the Privacy Act. The guidance, released by the Office of Information Policy, looks to answer common questions and help agencies make decisions about releasing information. It also provides, to those requesting information, how much access they are entitled to.


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