New House bill specifies how agencies should use artificial intelligence

The Federal Artificial Intelligence Governance and Transparency Act aims to codify governance of agency AI systems.

  • A new bipartisan bill in the House is laying out specific responsibilities for the Office of Management and Budget and for agencies in buying, managing and using artificial intelligence. The Federal AI Governance and Transparency Act, introduced yesterday by Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) and Ranking Member Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), aims to codify governance of agency AI systems, establish new mechanisms for transparency and accountability and consolidate and streamline other existing AI laws. The committee is scheduled to mark up the bill on Thursday, along with several others, including the Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2023 and the GSA Technology Accountability Act.
  • Over the years, tweaks to the government’s blue-collar pay system have left some employees underpaid — and others overpaid. Employees on the Federal Wage System get annual raises based on how their pay stacks up against the private sector. But in many years, Congress caps these pay bumps. The idea is to make sure the pay rates do not exceed salaries on the General Schedule. But as an unintended consequence, blue-collar feds now are not paid on par with their private sector counterparts. A new Government Accountability Office report said management from the Defense Department and the Office of Personnel Management will be critical to future changes for the Federal Wage System.
  • A federal watchdog is reporting that many federal buildings are not keeping up with a critical safety requirement. The General Services Administration, the federal government’s landlord, requires asbestos inspections every five years for every federal building built before 1998. But the Government Accountability Office said about two-thirds of federal buildings have not been inspected in the last five years. It found some buildings had no known inspection records, while some have not been checked in more than a decade. GSA said limited funding, staffing shortages and incomplete records are to blame for the watchdog’s findings.
  • A General Services Administration official calls speed one of the keys to more secure cloud services. Speed has not always been synonymous with the government’s security authorization processes. But Eric Mill, executive director of cloud strategy at GSA’s Technology Transformation Services, wants to change that. “We need to be making sure that we, in the service of visibility and oversight and security, are not making it impossible for companies to operate at the speed that produces as many security features and security improvements as possible," Mill said. Mill’s comments come as GSA and the White House work on reforms to the Federal Risk and Authorization Management program (FedRAMP).
  • Congress is planning to give the Department of Veterans Affairs more funding for its new electronic health record (EHR), just not the amount VA officials were asking for. Lawmakers proposed giving the VA $1.3 billion to support the project for the rest of this fiscal year. That is about half a billion dollars less than what the department requested. Lawmakers said the cut is because the VA has put the project on hold in order to deal with persistent outages and usability problems at VA facilities currently using the new EHR.
  • A federal union said the spending agreement in Congress from over the weekend is, at best, just an effort to tread water. Long-term spending challenges will continue to plague agencies, warns the American Federation of Government Employees. The union said the appropriations process on the whole is fundamentally flawed. And AFGE said limited funding for agencies, like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Bureau of Prisons in the appropriations minibus, could lead to further staffing issues.
  • The Defense Department is looking to hire an artificial intelligence officer to join the Defense Logistics Agency. The candidate will be responsible for guiding and implementing AI initiatives within the DLA, developing a skilled AI workforce and ensuring compliance with requirements to manage risks from using AI. To qualify, applicants must have one year of specialized experience equivalent to the GS-14 level or equivalent under other pay systems in the federal service, military or private sector. The position requires critical sensitive and top secret access security clearance.
  • National Cyber Director Harry Coker is touting progress on the White House’s cyber efforts. It has been one year since President Joe Biden signed off on the new national cybersecurity strategy. Coker said agencies have already completed 20 out of the 69 initiatives sketched out in the strategy’s implementation plan, including proposed changes to how the federal government buys Internet of Things devices aimed at ensuring they are secure-by-design. Coker said the White House will release the next version of the implementation plan soon.
  • The Air Force collects a lot of valuable data that, in the words of Gen. James Slife, "Will never see the light of day." Gen. Slife, the service’s newly confirmed vice chief of staff, said his number one priority is to improve how the service collects and uses its vast amounts of data. Slife is seeking better solutions for moving large quantities of data so airmen do not have to physically transport hard drives between bases. He is also looking for cross-domain solutions to transfer data between different classification levels quickly, accurately and in an automated fashion.

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