Federal AI Efforts and NDAA 2021

On January 1, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of fiscal year 2021 (NDAA 2021) was passed. Among the information in NDAA 2021 were several legislative provisions that will shape the government’s approach to artificial intelligence (AI) over the next few years. Three of the key AI provisions in NDAA 2021 include the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) establishing a voluntary risk management framework; the launching of the National Artificial Intelligence Initiative; and the Department of Defense (DoD) assessing its ability to acquire AI responsibly and ethically.

NIST Voluntary Risk Management Framework

NDAA 2021 directs NIST to establish a voluntary risk management framework for the use of AI and assessing the trustworthiness of AI systems. It also instructs NIST to define measurable standards within that framework. Finally, NDAA 2021 also expands NIST’s mission to include:

  • Advancing collaborative frameworks, standards, and guidelines for AI;
  • Supporting the development of a risk-mitigation framework for AI systems;
  • And supporting the development of technical standards and guidelines to promote trustworthy AI systems.

National Artificial Intelligence Initiative

NDAA 2021 called for the creation of a government-wide AI initiative to coordinate AI research and development. The framework for this includes a new National AI Initiative Office based in the White House, under which the new Interagency AI Committee and external National AI Advisory Committee will be based. This new framework will ensure the U.S. is a leader in the development and use of trustworthy AI systems.

Department of Defense & Acquiring AI Responsibly

Lastly, NDAA 2021 called for the Secretary of Defense to determine if the DoD has the ability and expertise to ensure AI technology acquired is ethically and responsibly developed. Additionally, it provided the DoD’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) the authority to acquire AI technologies in support of defense missions.

Overall, NDAA 2021 laid out several provisions that will shape the government’s approach to AI over the next few years. AI technology has recently come into focus and the new efforts from NDAA 2021 show that it will continue to be an area of focus for the government. To learn more about government contracting opportunities, contact our team.

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