Jun 28 2024

Government Should Brace for AI Disruption

Agencies are readily deploying artificial intelligence, some without putting in the legwork to manage its risks.

Recent developments in artificial intelligence require federal IT leaders to implement significant change management practices to keep pace while identifying opportunities and threats to their individual missions.

That’s why the Office of Management and Budget issued a March memo codifying the need for AI governance and establishing requirements and recommendations for how agencies should address specific risks of relying on the technology in their work, especially when it impacts public rights and safety.

Defense and civilian agencies have used AI tools for years: The Department of Defense developed models to predict equipment failures before they occur and conducts proactive maintenance, and the Department of Health and Human Services uses the tech to spot Medicaid fraud.

Still, a Government Accountability Office report from December found that some agencies lack complete inventories of how they use AI and that government “must manage its use of AI in a responsible way to minimize risk, achieve intended outcomes, and avoid unintended consequences.” The GAO recommended that the Office of Personnel Management establish or update a job category for positions with primarily AI-related duties, and CDW Government has developed a leadership approach for accelerating the necessary change management, specifically for generative AI.

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Agencies must ensure both their employees and the public understand the impact AI will have on their jobs, and CDW’s Mastering Operational AI Transformation program equips IT leaders with the common language, agility, strategy and understanding around the tech to do just that. In short, MOAT helps IT leaders plan for disruptive change.

AI Will Impact Many Government Jobs

Federal IT leaders must understand that AI heralds a future that requires them to rethink their agencies’ operations. What must they do when facing displacement due to AI and automation?

Consider the demise of the Blockbuster video rental chain, which was too preoccupied with business as usual to adjust to the rise of video streaming services. Similarly, agencies may soon find themselves trapped in a bureaucratic feedback loop.

Goldman Sachs projects that about one-fourth of current work tasks could be automated by AI in the U.S. and Europe, including:

  • Office and administrative support: 46 percent
  • Business and financial operations: 35 percent
  • Management: 32 percent
  • Computer and mathematics work: 29 percent
  • Educational instruction and library roles: 27 percent

RELATED: Agencies must lay the groundwork for generative artificial intelligence.

These jobs constitute much of what government does: administrative support functions such as processing paperwork, managing forms and related work. While not typically known for its agility, government still has time and opportunity to prepare.

Agencies need to plan for AI disruption now because of how quickly the technology is evolving. AI computing power increased tremendously over the past year alone — and as goes computing, so go the models themselves.

ChatGPT and open-source AI models can now grab data and skills from the internet, and we’re entering a state of multiagent AI, where each agent is defined with its own role. These agents can already collaborate as a team to solve a problem, which will be far more disruptive to the workforce than simply using AI out of the box the way we do today.

EXPLORE: Agencies are looking to AI-enhanced robotic process automation to solve challenges.

Making the Case for AI to Federal Employees and Citizens

Government is seen as far less competent and ethical than business, according to the 2024 Edelman Trust Barometer. The report saw government rated 52 points lower than business on competency.

But people don’t trust AI companies either, so it would behoove agencies to develop their messaging around AI with a trusted partner and, in particular, a solutions integrator such as CDW Government. Solutions integrators strike the desired balance by rightsizing AI and automation to protect people and their jobs.

CDW runs AI scenario planning with federal officials through our MOAT framework. The goal is for agencies to effectively integrate AI to help citizens rather than being swept away by the currents of the rapidly evolving technology landscape.

By focusing on the positives, such as how AI creates jobs and improves education and quality of life, we can convince employees to embrace the change.

This article is part of FedTech’s CapITal blog series.

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