By Jason Lee
Artificial Intelligence coming of age is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for taxpayers. A month ago, following a report from Chief Justice John Roberts on AI use in the judiciary, the House Committee on Administration held a hearing on Artificial Intelligence Innovation within the Legislative Branch. AI development is still being questioned, reviewed, and assessed for its use in the public and private sectors, but AI integration in all three branches of government could both cut costs and improve services for constituents.
The hearing featured witnesses from multiple agencies, including the Library of Congress (LOC), the Government Publishing Office (GPO), the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and the House Chief Administrative Office (CAO). Overall, there is bipartisan agreement that AI presents a tremendous opportunity to make government services more efficient.
According to Chairman Bryan Steil (R-Wis.):
By the end of the year, we saw several A.I. use cases emerging from our legislative branch agencies. For example, we’ve seen innovative experiments with optical character recognition to assist visually impaired library patrons. The US copyright Office is using A.I to improve digital accessibility to copyright registration records and other data. Natural language processing is helping rapidly summarize legislation and testing how enhanced search tools can help the public more quickly find government publications. These use cases are just some examples of what will enable Congress to be more effective.
Ranking Member Joe Morelle echoed this sentiment: “AI can simplify complex tasks, provide insights into data, build capacity, improve workflows, and more.”
The hearing also highlighted how AI is being leveraged by House Members’ offices, as CHAT GPT has been increasingly employed for first drafts. House Deputy Chief Administrative Officer John Clocker highlighted that Chat GPT could help with writer’s block in creating first drafts of speech, testimony, and witness questions as it can help to customize written works to the member’s voice. He emphasized, however, that proper training will be needed to ensure it is being used in an appropriate and ethical manner.
AI adoption in the executive branch could help federal agencies better organize and keep records, such as tax records for the IRS, secure. AI can also help the Drug Enforcement Administration and Customs and Border Protection better screen and monitor shipments for drug and human trafficking. In case of a natural disaster, FEMA could apply AI chatbots to help direct survivors to rescue or the nearest emergency shelters.
AI could also streamline legal administrative work, which could help reduce the cost of legal counsel, making attorneys more accessible to clients. As observed by Chief Justice Roberts: “It drives new, highly accessible tools that provide answers to basic questions, including where to find templates and court forms, how to fill them out, and where to bring them for presentation to the judge—all without leaving home.”
One of the Beltway’s biggest accounting firms, Deloitte, produced a study about how AI could save cost and time for the government: “Finally, with strong support for AI adoption, we can simulate a ceiling of potential benefits: 27 to 30 percent time savings within five to seven years.” And according to Industry Insider, the biggest obstacle to ensuring successful AI adoption is the fact that “95% of executives and 94% of IT professionals believe AI initiatives will fail without staff who can effectively use AI tools. But only 40% of organizations have formal structured training and instruction for AI skills.”
AI adoption in the federal government remains a work in progress, but it has the potential to deliver progress on good governance, solve complex crises, and reduce bureaucratic overreach. Lawmakers should encourage its adoption with sensible guardrails to preserve human oversight. As Chief Justice Roberts wrote, AI must be perceived with “caution and humility,” but will ultimately benefit taxpayers, constituents, plaintiffs, and defendants alike.