NAPA Sets Government AI Among ‘Grand Challenges’ in Public Administration

The National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) is featuring government adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies among 12 “grand challenges” that the group has identified as the biggest challenges that face governments through the 2020s.

Each of those challenges – released by NAPA on Nov. 6 – “represents a critical issue facing our nation today,” and are ones for which “effective and innovative public administration forms the core of every solution set,” the group said. The 12 challenges, it said, should be part of a “decade-long agenda for the entire field of Public Administration.”

“Through that agenda, we hope to integrate the efforts of the academic, practitioner, and partner communities so that we can collectively develop and advance new models of governance to meet these challenges and ultimately increase the public’s trust in government,” the group said.

On the AI front, NAPA said it will work with stakeholders to determine how to:

  • Use AI to improve service delivery;
  • Develop an AI-ready workforce;
  • Incorporate AI into public administration curriculum;
  • Resolve ethical issues associated with AI;
  • Develop multi-level governance schemes to protect against unintended AI bias;
  • Ensure that benefits of AI are available to all; and
  • Address “AI’s intergovernmental and intersectoral dimensions.”

“To continue to develop AI systems, the federal government, in particular, must play a leading role by facilitating AI research and development and protecting the nation’s AI technology base from adversaries and competitors,” the group said. “Accordingly, governments at all levels must work collaboratively to promote public trust in the development and deployment of AI tools; train an AI-ready workforce for both the public and private sectors; and address the ethical concerns about AI’s potential downsides in the areas of discrimination, civil liberties, and privacy,” NAPA said.

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