Challenges associated with the use of artificial intelligence throughout the federal government include eliminating bias, preparing the workforce and defining ethical use. But increased use of AI also poses a challenge to inspectors general: How do they provide oversight of this technology?

The inspector general for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence detailed in its Semiannual Report, released Nov. 25, how it’s working to improve AI programs within the intelligence community.

According the report, the IGs in the intel community face “mounting” challenges posed by discovering, sorting and analyzing large amounts of data. Thus, the inspector general of the intelligence community, or ICIG, “selected artificial intelligence as an objective for review due to the presence it has played in multiple documents and reports published by ODNI.”

To better communication between IGs across the intel community, the ICIG has “begun exploring” the creation of an IG community of interest to induce collaboration between several IG offices, including those of the departments of Justice, State, Defense, Energy and Treasury, as well as the FBI.

To better the ICIG’s understanding of the how the intel community uses AI, and to enhance the inspectors general’s audit capabilities, the ICIG has turned to government experts, academia and industry to begin “mapping the landscape" of AI-related work happening under its purview.

The intel community is working on AI projects under a strategy document created under former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, titled “Augmenting Intelligence using Machines (AIM) Initiative.” That strategy identified AI as a technology that could improve data interpretation and mission capability.

As different intel agencies moved forward with AI projects, the ICIG began compiling a list of existing and planned AI projects. The list, combined with other ICIG efforts to engage with AI efforts across government and industry, will “advance Intelligence Community Offices of Inspectors General’s ability to develop criteria and measures for evaluating investments in oversight of artificial intelligence in terms of personnel, training, and technology.”

The use of emerging technology also presents the ICIG with workforce challenges. The ICIG has compiled a list of available course offerings within the government and academia that could “substantively broaden and deepen” the inspectors general’s expertise in data and AI.

The ICIG has also “expanded” its previous engagements with the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, an federal inspectors general group working to better government IG offices. The ICIG pointed to the group’s data analytics working group and its emerging technology subcommittee as important areas for the ICIG to engage.

“The ICIG continues its work to enable shared situational awareness within the Inspector General community, both in the Intelligence Community and the broader federal government,” the report read.

Andrew Eversden covers all things defense technology for C4ISRNET. He previously reported on federal IT and cybersecurity for Federal Times and Fifth Domain, and worked as a congressional reporting fellow for the Texas Tribune. He was also a Washington intern for the Durango Herald. Andrew is a graduate of American University.

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