Senators propose AI training for federal acquisition workforce

Lawmakers want to ensure the U.S. leads competitors like China in the sector while doing so ethically.
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 11: Chairman Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) (R) speaks with Ranking Member Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing. (Photo by Sarah Silbiger-Pool/Getty Images)

A bipartisan duo of senators introduced a bill that would increase the federal acquisition workforce’s understanding of artificial intelligence by creating a training program for them on the risks and benefits of the technology.

The AI Training for the Acquisition Workforce Act would give the Office of Management and Budget and General Services Administration a year to stand up the program if passed.

Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, proposed the legislation, part of a broader push by lawmakers to ensure the U.S. leads foreign competitors like China in the emerging sector while doing so ethically.

“We need a federal acquisition workforce that understands AI, how it works, how it can help the government run better, and the ways we can fix the problems with AI systems so those procurement professionals can know they are buying the right AI systems for the government,” Portman said in the announcement.


The training program would cover AI science, system features, risks like discrimination and privacy violations, and risk mitigations. Contracting officers would be taught how to procure trustworthy AI and the latest national security trends pertaining to the technology.

OMB would be expected to update the program once every two years with new information.

The bill lays out an interactive program taught by technologists and other public- and private-sector experts and would require OMB to track workforce participation.

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