At White House AI Aspirations Conference, EPIC Urges Agencies Considering AI to Center Public Trust

June 20, 2024

On Thursday, June 13, EPIC Executive Director Alan Butler joined experts from across the federal government for a White House panel discussing government service delivery, AI deployment, and data privacy. The panel, part of an AI Aspirations conference organized by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), was the latest in a series of events around President Biden’s AI Executive Order—and the steps federal agencies have taken to comply.

Central to responsible government service delivery, Alan argued, is building public trust in government. Without the trust of those who rely on public services and those subject to government AI decisions—trust built from government transparency, accountability mechanisms, and privacy protections—government agencies will lack the public buy-in they need to enable better, more responsible service delivery. For example, it’s been 50 years since the Privacy Act was enacted and over 20 years since the E-Government Act was passed; the government already has the scaffolding for strong consumer protections, but we need to strengthen these laws—and agency compliance—before the problems of AI get worse. As Alan put it: “If agencies are going to be purchasing and developing AI systems, they need to be doing more than [System of Records Notices (SORNs)] and weak impact assessments.”

Alan Butler was the only civil society representative invited to join the panel—and the only voice centering data privacy and consumer protection within the conversation. The other panelists included Clare Martorana, Federal Chief Information Officer at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB); Loren DeJong Schulman, Associate Director for Performance and Personnel Management at OMB; Sarah Esty, Senior Advisor for Technology and Delivery to the Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); and Amy Edwards Holmes, Executive Director at the Bloomberg Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University.

This White House panel also follows years of EPIC research and advocacy into government AI procurement and service delivery, including a first-of-its kind report on national AI procurement trends for use in government services and a coalition letter to OMB on AI procurement and use guidelines designed around civil rights and transparency. The harms of procured AI systems are already here, and EPIC will continue to fight for more trustworthy and accountable government service delivery.

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