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General Services Administration Launches AI-Focused Cohort

The federal oversight agency has launched its first cohort focused on artificial intelligence for its Presidential Innovation Fellows program, aiming to create a talent pipeline for AI in government.

Illustrations in blue and white feature human sillhouettes holding hands with white human sillhouettes that say "Ai"
The General Services Administration (GSA), an independent government agency that supports the federal government, has launched its first cohort of Presidential Innovation Fellows (PIF) dedicated to artificial intelligence.

This announcement delivers on an item from the federal executive order on AI. Among other things, the executive order called for the advancement of federal technology talent programs and the implementation of plans to recruit AI talent into the federal government workforce — identifying PIF as one such talent pipeline.

“This new class of fellows will focus on values-driven implementation aligned with the executive order on AI so that we can harness the benefits of this new technology, mitigate the risks and ensure Americans get better service delivery from their government,” said GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan in the announcement.

This AI-focused cohort is the second PIF class this year, and it includes 11 experts from top tech organizations and companies. One of the cohort’s projects, for example, includes leveraging AI to improve justice access and to enhance electric grid infrastructure for clean, affordable and secure electric power. More information on the fellows in this cohort can be found on the PIF website.

Members of PIF cohorts work with specific federal agencies to find tech-based solutions to civic challenges. The fellows in this cohort will work at the following agencies: the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the U.S. Department of State, the Department of Energy, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Former PIF cohorts involved a broad technology focus that addressed different challenges — from nutrition program improvement to greenhouse gas emission reduction — whereas this is the first cohort to exclusively focus on AI.

A former PIF, Olivia Zhu, now serves as the assistant director for AI policy at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. As she explained in the announcement, her experience in the PIF program helped her transition from the technology sector into public service.

Through this program, participating cohort members serve as strategic senior advisers that support executive-level leaders. The members act as subject matter experts, pairing their expertise with institutional knowledge on the public sector to create solutions.

“The collaboration between these fellows and the agencies where they will serve exemplifies the societywide effort that responsible use of AI demands,” said Deputy Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Office of Management and Budget Dominic Mancini in the announcement.

The program has recruited over 260 fellows that have worked at over 50 agencies since it was established in 2012. In 2015, it was made a permanent fixture by way of executive order. The program has led to influential action, like the 2014 establishment of 18F, a digital consulting office within GSA.