A unicorn has been spotted on the USAJobs website.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Chief Information Officer is looking for 50 technology experts to work on artificial intelligence, a hot topic and an area of which the government is desperately in need.
The job pays in the upper echelons of the General Schedule, and benefits from the expedited process of direct-hire authority.
And, it’s fully remote from anywhere in the country.
The opening comes after Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer Eric Hysen called for the department’s first hiring sprint related to AI. On Tuesday, the new DHS AI Corps was unveiled as a program modeled after the U.S. Digital Service, a technology unit within the White House that focuses on strategic areas and devotes resources specifically to advancing use of modern tools.
Those hired under DHS’ program will focus on countering fentanyl, combating child sexual exploitation and abuse, delivering improved immigration services, securing travel, fortifying critical infrastructure or enhancing cybersecurity.
“Now is the time for tech experts to make a real difference for our country and join the federal government,” said Hysen, who was named to the position last year, in a statement. “We are recruiting faster than ever because the need is urgent. More Americans interact with DHS every day than any other federal agency, so the better and faster we can deploy responsible AI, the more it can positively impact the American people.”
The position’s offerings make a statement, say those reacting to it on LinkedIn. With many agencies ordering their workers back to offices post-pandemic, the Department of Homeland Security is willing to meet applicants where they are — literally. Of the more than 13,000 openings on USAJobs, only 400, or roughly 3%, are remote.
The urgency is being felt governmentwide A series of recent hearings on Capitol Hill have invited agencies to testify about what they’re doing, and what they need, to leverage AI, whether they’re using it to deter malicious attacks or simply take a load off their manual paper processing. As of December, 20 of 23 surveyed agencies reported about 1,200 current and planned artificial intelligence use cases, according to the Government Accountability Office.
“That’s both ‘pie in the sky’ stuff, as well as current,” said Kevin Walsh, director of GAO’s IT and cybersecurity team at MeriTalk’s Accelerate AI Forum on Jan. 29. “And if you look at the difference between the two, there were 228 in-production use cases in the government. The takeaway is: AI is here.”
The Biden administration has been pushing top-down for agencies to make AI education and deployment a priority in an executive order last year. Draft guidance has since been unveiled to lay out exactly how agencies are to implement the President’s order. Other frameworks, best practices and directives have been spun up in recent years to further nail down accountability, ethics and governance of AI in the public sector.
But none of that will be achieved if agencies lack the experts in-house to engineer and oversee a technology that has boundless risks and rewards.
Since the executive order was granted, the administration has granted flexible hiring authorities and focused on recruiting for periphery occupations needed to support AI specialists, like data scientists and procurement officers.
To stretch its talent surge even further, DHS is also making use of shared certificates, an HR trick that has become more popular recently for its ability to streamline hiring for tough-to-fill occupations across multiple agencies.
In this case, the 2210 series for Information Technology Management has been a longstanding critical skill gap that has been greenlighted for recruiting incentives, like special salary rates, and shared certs.
Applicants should be aware that DHS intends to share lists of applicants with hiring managers in different offices to make the most of those who apply to these openings.
The job posting will remain open for 60 days or until all 50 have been selected.
Molly Weisner is a staff reporter for Federal Times where she covers labor, policy and contracting pertaining to the government workforce. She made previous stops at USA Today and McClatchy as a digital producer, and worked at The New York Times as a copy editor. Molly majored in journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.