AI-ready organizations work smarter and more efficiently. When AI is used within the government, it assists federal employees in delivering on the mission more effectively, efficiently, and reliably. To better understand what an AI-ready government looks like and how it can be achieved, we sat down with Chandler McCann, general manager and data science practice lead for DataRobot.
Government Technology Insider (GTI): How does using AI impact a federal agency’s workforce and what are the benefits?
Chandler McCann (CM): It’s important to understand that AI is a transformational technology that’s changing the world. It’s really exciting to be able to support data scientists, business analysts, and other professionals within the federal government as their agencies embark on their AI journey. The good news about today’s AI technology is that not everyone has to be a data scientist – they don’t even need coding skills — in order to use AI and reap the benefits of having it as part of their workflow.
AI adds value to federal agencies, specifically, in three ways. It helps to reduce risk, increase and improve operational efficiency, and positively impact mission-critical tasks. Whether it’s the Department of Defense (DoD) or within civilian agencies, AI allows for faster and more accurate decision-making.
GTI: How AI-ready is the federal government right now?
CM: Federal government agencies are more AI-ready than they think. If we consider the proliferation of AI over the last few years the bar has, historically, been perceived as very high. For those managing AI initiatives, they needed to have a master’s degree in computer science, statistics, or something comparable. However, with a trusted AI partner experienced in delivering AI education and transformation best practices, what’s most important in terms of the user is their domain knowledge. What I’ve seen is that people who don’t necessarily have coding experience but know the details of their agency’s mission, and have a drive to fulfill it, have been able to really make a difference in their organization using AI and machine learning.
GTI: How can agencies prepare for AI?
MC: To start, agencies should prepare at the leadership level. First, leaders need to become conversant and understanding of what AI is and isn’t. They need to recognize opportunities and think about where they can apply AI and machine learning to support the mission. They must also consider the tools needed to take advantage of those opportunities. If I’m leading an organization I want to have as many people as possible able to leverage AI and do so on the most trusted platform and solutions. A bonus for government leaders is identifying a use case that offers the biggest mission impact. This helps to train them to spot the biggest impact opportunities and determine which ones make the most sense and will provide the most value at the given time.
GTI: How do you anticipate AI will continue transforming the federal government?
MC: The use cases for AI within the federal government are endless; I think we’re at the front of the wave when it comes to implementing and realizing the positive impact of AI. Within an organization, oftentimes what I’ve seen is leaders consider one or two opportunities where they can leverage AI. However, there are myriad of opportunities, not just one or two.
Imagine if every process in the federal government got 10 or 20 percent better. That would have massive downstream effects for the economy, citizens, and all agency missions. As AI becomes more ubiquitous, we’re going to see big changes in efficiency and other areas. The key is to use AI to solve some of the hardest problems out there. Why? Because it can.
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