Agencies Begin to Comply with 2020 Executive Order on AI Transparency

August 3, 2022

By: Ben Winters, EPIC Counsel

Anton Grabolle / Better Images of AI / Classification Cupboard / CC-BY 4.0

In 2020, President Trump signed Executive Order 13960, which created concrete requirements aimed to improve transparency around how the United States is currently using automated decision-making systems by creating registries of non-classified federal government uses of AI, and requiring public “use case inventories.” This EO prompted specific deadlines for meeting requirements, including mandates that agencies must prepare inventories of AI use cases in compliance with their own guidance by August 2021, and make those inventories public by December 2021 (the OMB additionally clarified that agencies should finalize and publish plans to regulate AI by May 17, 2021). Most deadlines stemming from the executive orders have still not been met by a majority of agencies, which EPIC wrote about in January 2022.

Throughout Summer 2022, some agencies have complied with portions of 13960, and the Federal CIO has made progress with their requirements, publishing the following guidance on Use Case Inventories:

Example AI Use Case Inventory Scenarios 

Pursuant to Section 5 of Executive Order (EO) 13960, “Promoting the Use of Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence in the Federal Government”, federal agencies are required to inventory their Artificial Intelligence (AI) use cases and share their inventories with other government agencies and the public. This reference provides example scenarios to serve as a reference for federal agencies as they review the “2021 Guidance for Creating Agency Inventories of Artificial Intelligence Use Cases” and create their inaugural AI use case inventories designated under EO 13960. For the purposes of this document, the reader should assume the AI use cases meet one or more of the FY 2019 NDAA AI definition criteria. 

For additional information, please refer to, “FAQs: 2021 Guidance for Creating Agency Inventories of Artificial Intelligence Use Cases” maintained at https://community.max.gov/x/RBASgw.

Scenario 1: A clinician in the Department of Veterans Affairs medical system uses a dashboard drawing on real-time data across the United States that is powered by artificial intelligence to guide their decision-making process over how to best treat their patient. They look at the patient’s risk factor and the features that contribute most to the score and make a judgment about how best to treat the patient.
Discussion: This scenario should be included in the Agency Use Case Inventory because it influences the agency’s decision-making process (criteria in EO 13960 Section 9(b)).
 
Scenario 2: An agency purchases enterprise software (Microsoft Office) advertised as using AI capabilities to suggest writing improvements. 
Discussion: This AI use case falls under the exemption for “embedded within common commercial products” in 9(d)(ii) of EO 13960. Note, if the software allowed for custom training of the AI algorithm, it would not fall under exemption 9(d)(ii). 
 
Scenario 3: An agency issues an RFP for a tool to help analyze a large volume of image data. Based on market research, the agency expects that the resulting tool will include human-like visual processing capabilities. There is a high degree of confidence that the overall procurement process will result in an AI system.
Discussion: This scenario should be included in the Agency Use Case Inventory because it is planned to be provided by the agency or by third parties on behalf of agencies (criteria in EO 13960 section 9(c)).

The following agencies have published Use Case Inventories in compliance with EO 13960:

EO 13960 also requires agencies to complete Algorithmic Impact Assessments, which must be prepared by the Federal CIO Council. The Council recently published an “alpha” version of an Algorithmic Impact Assessment. While this progress is encouraging, we note that most of these actions have taken place well past the established deadlines and many requirements remain to be completed. EPIC will continue to monitor and update this post with additional compliance with the Executive Order.

Support Our Work

EPIC's work is funded by the support of individuals like you, who allow us to continue to protect privacy, open government, and democratic values in the information age.

Donate