The Centers of Excellence initiative’s next marks: CPSC and JAIC?

Anil Cheriyan speaks during a fireside chat at FedTalks 2019. (FedScoop)


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Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with information from GSA’s formal announcement of the GSA CoE-DOD JAIC partnership.

The General Services Administration’s Centers of Excellence team has its eyes set on its next customer — and the one after that, too.

The CoE team is in the early “discovery” stages of working with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a CPSC spokesperson confirmed to FedScoop. Technology Transformation Service Director Anil Cheriyan first shared the news of the partnership at the White House AI summit earlier this month. “We just got started,” he said during his remarks.

“We’re working with the GSA COE on the development of an enterprise data strategy and implementation plan to support ongoing work to support of the CPSC’s commitment to evidence-based decision making and the importance of data and analytics in agency operations,” the CPSC spokesperson told FedScoop.

The CPSC — a small agency with a prolific and very weird Twitter account — is the CoE team’s fourth engagement.

The team recently acknowledged that it will be leaving the U.S. Department of Agriculture — its “lighthouse” agency — after about 18 months. A USDA spokesperson called the IT modernization partnership “a tremendous success.”

Centers of Excellence are also in operation at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Office of Personnel Management.

DOD’s JAIC on deck?

Cheriyan didn’t stop with this one announcement. He implied during his summit remarks, and then confirmed to FedScoop, that the CoEs are in “active discussions” with the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) at the Department of Defense. Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, who serves as JAIC’s director, alluded to the potential partnership as well.

When asked for further confirmation, a JAIC spokesperson told FedScoop that the conversations are in very early stages and it would be “premature” to comment further.

One day after the initial publication of this story, however, on Sept. 25, GSA formally announced the JAIC and CoE partnership in a press release.

“The new GSA-DoD partnership reflects the ongoing success of the Center of Excellence initiative,” Chris Liddell, White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Coordination, said in a statement. “In alignment with the Administration’s strategy for ensuring American leadership in the industries of the future, the AI CoE program will build the capacity to deliver AI solutions throughout the federal government.”

Cheriyan additionally stated that TTS and CoE leadership are looking into creating a new center of excellence focused on artificial intelligence. The approach to this is a multi-phased one — starting with creating a community of practice around AI, then engaging agencies (such as JAIC) that may be interested in this capacity and finally launching a new CoE.

If this happens, it will be the first time the White House Office of American Innovation-initiated project has decided to grow its own jurisdiction. The five current CoEs —  on IT Infrastructure Optimization, Cloud Adoption, Customer Experience, Data Analytics and Contact Center — were all launched at the same time.

-In this Story-

Anil Cheriyan, Centers of excellence, Consumer Product Safety Commission, General Services Administration (GSA), IT Modernization, Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), Technology Transformation Services (TTS)