Now with the With an explosion of interest in artificial intelligence, Congress is focused on ensuring those working in government learn more about the technology. U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-Michigan) and Mike Braun (R-Indiana) call for universal AI leadership training with the AI Leadership Training ActWhich one is move forward with the full Senate for consideration. The bill directs the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the federal government’s human resources department, to train federal leaders in the basics and risks of AI. However, it does not yet mandate teaching how to use AI to make government work better.
The AI Leadership Training Act is an important step in the right direction, but it must go beyond basic mandatory AI training. It should require the OPM to teach officials how to use AI technologies to improve public service making government services more accessible, providing consistent access to city services, helping analyze data to understand citizens’ needs, and creating new opportunities for the public to participate in democratic decision-making.
For example, cities are already experiment with AI-based image generation for participatory urban planning, while San Francisco PAIGE AI Chatbot helps answer questions from business owners on how to sell to the city. Helsinki, Finland, uses a AI-based decision support tool analyze data and provide recommendations on city policies. In Dubai, leaders are not only learning AI in general, but learning to use ChatGPT in particular. Legislation should also require OPMs to teach not just what AI is, but how to use at the service of citizens.
In line with practice in all other countries, legislation should require that training be free. This is already the case for the military. On the civilian side, however, the OPM is required to charge fees for its training programs. A course called Enabling 21st-Century Leaders, for example, costs $2,200 per person. Even if the individual applies for reimbursement from their organization, too often programs do not have dedicated development budgets.
If we want public servants to understand AI, we cannot charge them. Nor is it necessary to do so. Relying on a program created in New Jersey, six states are now collaborating in a project called InnovateUS develop free, live, self-paced learning in digital, data and innovation. Since the content is fully open-licensed and designed specifically for public servants, it can easily be shared between states and with the federal government as well.
The law should also require that the training be easy to find. Even if Congress mandates training, public sector professionals will be hard pressed to find it without the physical infrastructure to ensure public servants can keep up and keep up with their learning about technology and data. In Germany, the federal government Digital Academy offers a unique site for increasing digital skills to ensure broad participation. In contrast, in the United States, each federal agency has its own website (and sometimes more than one) on which employees can search for training opportunities, and the OPM does not advertise its training in the entire federal government. As the Ministry of Defense began building USALearning.gov so that in the long term all employees have access to the same content, this project must be accelerated.