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OMB Offers Draft AI Implementation Guidance for Comment

New draft policy from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget aims to offer guidance for AI governance structures that will help agencies to implement and apply AI technologies in a responsible way.

Image shows a hand reaching toward a screen that has a cyan-colored brain and data points around it, representing AI.
The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is releasing a new draft policy called Advancing Governance, Innovation, and Risk Management for Agency Use of Artificial Intelligence.

Early this week, President Biden signed a much-anticipated executive order regulating AI, which was followed by Vice President Kamala Harris speaking about the technology at the UK A.I. Safety Summit.

It was Harris who announced that OMB was releasing the draft policy for comment. This guidance helps to establish AI governance structures within federal agencies, advance responsible AI innovation, increase transparency, protect federal workers and manage associated risks.

This follows other federal guidance, including the AI Risk Management Framework as well as the AI Bill of Rights, which has been referred to as “mile one of a long marathon.”

The OMB guidance aims to improve AI oversight by directing federal departments and agencies to take several steps in the areas of strengthening AI governance, advancing responsible AI innovation and managing risks from the use of AI.

In the first area, the draft guidance would direct agencies to designate chief AI officers. These officers would be responsible for advising on the technology, as well as tracking an agency’s related activities, managing risks, and ensuring any use is in line with the agency’s mission.

Also, in strengthening AI governance, it states that agencies would be directed to establish internal mechanisms to coordinate efforts related to the technology. For large agencies, this would include the establishment of AI governance boards. It would also call for expanded reporting by agencies and directs the agency to publish plans for compliance.

In the second area, advancing responsible AI innovation, the guidance would direct federal agencies to develop an agency strategy, remove unnecessary barriers to use and explore the use of generative AI.

Finally, in the area of managing AI-associated risks, the guidance would direct agencies to mandate the implementation of safeguards for uses that impact the public’s rights or safety. It would also direct agencies to define uses of AI that could impact rights and safety, while directing agencies to offer recommendations to manage risk in the area of federal procurement of the tools.

According to the briefing, after the proposed guidance is finalized, OMB will develop a way to ensure federal contracts align with recommendations. This was required by Biden’s October 2023 AI executive order.

Public comment on the draft policy released this week is welcomed through Dec. 5, 2023.

“With the current rapid pace of technological development, bold leadership in AI is needed,” the announcement stated. “With this draft guidance, the government is demonstrating that it can lead in AI and ensure that the technology benefits all.”

AI has already been deployed in federal agencies including the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.