IT & Networks

What’s in store for the GSA’s AI community of practice?

The General Services Administration’s new artificial intelligence community of practice wants to help agencies break through challenges they face in AI deployment as the federal government pushes for increased use of emerging technology, while grappling with related workforce and ethical challenges.

Speaking at GSA’s “AI in Federal Procurement” event Jan. 29, Steve Babitch, head of AI portfolio at GSA’s Technology Transformation Service, which helps agencies modernize IT, outlined several areas of work that GSA’s AI community of practice plans to tackle.

“We want to be able to ... create, collect, aggregate and share best practices, lessons learned and best use cases across the federal government,” said Babitch, adding that they’ve learned that there is a desire from leaders at other agencies to have a forum to discuss challenges and solutions from other agencies’ projects.

Here are some of the areas the community of practice will focus on:

Workforce: Babitch, who heads the community of practice, said that the group wants to “identify and share perspectives of workforce development” for AI. Workforce shortages challenge the government in areas from cybersecurity to data science and a similar problem in AI could affect the use of AI in projects.

“If they don’t understand these technologies at a deep enough level ... it’s far more difficult to implement these projects in an effective way,” Babitch said.

Identify gaps and find solutions: Workforce, ethics, security, privacy are all issues that Babitch identified as gaps the community of practice will seek to fill.

The community of practice will host quarterly sessions, along with more webinars, seminars, workshops and training to facilitate conversation. Part of that plan, Babitch said, would be to host speakers from across government.

“We want to be able to put them on stage, share their experience and then engage with the community in terms of sharing those lessons learned and best practices,” Babitch said.

Practice areas: The community of practices wants to “codify” areas of practice “that are most relevant or important," like ethics or privacy, and form groups to identify specific challenges to solve, Babitch said.

Use case sharing: The new community of practice wants to build a “repository or a library" of use cases, he said. Throughout the new group’s engagement with agencies, it’s heard that agencies want to see what others are doing.

Content: Babitch said that the group wants to share different perspectives on “issue topics” in AI and circulate it throughout the federal community.

External engagement: The community of practice wants to communicate with organizations outside of the federal government, including industry and academia.

“We welcome ideas in terms of places that we can, at minimum, become aware of and share that within the federal government community,” Babitch said.

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