Recent research has found that artificial intelligence technology is expected to remain a major priority for federal agencies. While the COVID pandemic response added urgency to the development of agencies’ IT and AI capabilities, these technologies are rooted in agencies’ long-term IT and R&D strategic plans.

The Federal Artificial Intelligence Landscape, 2022 report, produced by Deltek’s Federal Market Analysis team, examines the major budgetary, policy, acquisition and workforce issues influencing federal AI priorities. That research has found that as government mission requirements grow, federal agencies are seeking ways to maximize the use of the vast data sets they collect and store.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies have emerged as key solutions enabling agencies to improve mission effectiveness, stretch workforce capacity, combat waste, fraud and abuse and drive operational efficiencies. The maturation of AI technology, a growing list of AI use cases and applications and the growth in commercial solutions, have all contributed to pushing AI beyond the R&D work at scientific agencies such as NASA and the Department of Energy to a broader pool of agencies.

The convergence of mission requirements, legislation, policy and technology advances is driving federal agencies to explore AI and machine learning capabilities as data volume and mission complexity grow. Barriers to the broader deployment of AI technology still remain, such as questions about transparency, ethics and responsible AI. But trust and understanding in the technology is steadily beginning to increase, as shown by the growth in AI investment across federal government agencies.

Here are three key findings from Deltek’s most recent artificial intelligence research:

  • Federal AI spending is accelerating. Identifiable federal spending on artificial intelligence rose to nearly $1 billion in FY 2020, up 50 percent from FY 2018, making it one of the fastest growing emerging technology investment areas.
  • The presence of small businesses is growing. Although federal customers spend more with large businesses, AI-related small business obligations grew 177 percent from $129 million in FY 2018 to $357 million in FY 2020.
  • Legislation and policy are driving a focus on AI. Legislation and executive branch policies are key drivers of federal artificial intelligence investment. Recognizing the need for U.S. competitiveness in AI, Congress, the White House and agencies have all developed directives to encourage the implementation of AI and machine learning capabilities.

On the whole, AI technologies hold a great deal of potential to transform industries such as national security, agriculture, transportation and healthcare, and they could also create an improvement in overall government operations. It’s safe to say that in both the short- and longer-term government spending on AI technology is going to remain a significant part of agencies’ strategic planning.

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