GSA’s Presidential Innovation Fellows Launch First AI-Focused Cohort – HS Today

GSA’s Presidential Innovation Fellows Launch First AI-Focused Cohort – HS Today

GSA announced the launch of its second class of Presidential Innovation Fellows (PIF) this year.

The cohort, the first exclusively focused on Artificial Intelligence (AI), supports the Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence. The order identifies the PIF program as a federal talent pipeline to recruit top AI talent into government.

This AI cohort includes 11 experts from top tech companies, startups, and organizations around the country. Meeting the government-wide needs specific to AI, they will begin a yearlong tour of duty in civil service, embedded at eight federal agencies. Projects will include maximizing AI’s potential to increase access to justice while minimizing risk of consumer harm, and harnessing data and AI to enhance the electric grid infrastructure to enable the provision of clean, affordable, reliable, resilient, and secure electric power to all Americans.

“We’re excited to welcome a technologist through the PIF program to advance DOE’s transformative work at the intersection of AI and energy,” said Director of the Department of Energy’s Office of Critical and Emerging Technologies Helena Fu. “The fellow will help propel our VoltAIc Initiative – building AI-powered tools to streamline siting and permitting to help accelerate deployment of clean energy infrastructure.”

“We look forward to welcoming the amazing expertise and innovative ideas the PIFs will bring on how to maximize the potential benefits of AI while mitigating the potential risks,” said Deputy Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Office of Management and Budget Dominic Mancini. “The collaboration between these fellows and the agencies where they will serve exemplifies the society-wide effort that responsible use of AI demands.”

Between the Presidential Innovation Fellows program and the U.S. Digital Corps, GSA’s Technology Transformation Services (TTS) is bringing more tech talent into government than ever before. Over 2,500 people responded to the call for applications, and TTS is on track to hire over 100 technologists in 2024, including over 200 fellows of which 120 technologists are in AI and AI-enabling roles.

“All of our fellows are making significant contributions to technology innovation and modernization across government – and this AI-focused cohort will do the same,” said GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan. “This new class of fellows will focus on values-driven implementation aligned with the Executive Order on AI so that we can harness the benefits of this new technology, mitigate the risks, and ensure Americans get better service delivery from their government.”

PIFs serve as strategic senior advisors supporting executive level leaders and their teams in areas that are crucial to how the government delivers services to the public. Pairing top-tier subject-matter expertise with public sector institutional knowledge provides an opportunity for each fellow to shape, define, and lead initiatives, including those that address pressing agency challenges. Since the program launched in 2012, PIF has recruited over 260 fellows who have worked at more than 50 agencies.

“I’ve been able to apply my experience as a technologist to shape how the nation approaches AI policy, including through the Biden-Harris Administration’s AI Executive Order and the policy for government use of AI announced by Vice President Harris,”  said Assistant Director for AI Policy at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and former Presidential Innovation Fellow Olivia Zhu. “I appreciate the PIF program’s role in helping me transition from the tech sector into government, and look forward to watching more technologists join public service.”

The new fellows and their agencies are:

  • Maria Botchkova, U.S. Department of Justice
  • John Cronin, Department of Defense
  • Brian Karfunkel, U.S. Department of Justice
  • Nandini Nayak, Ph.D., Federal Housing Finance Agency
  • Anjali Patel, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • James Pavur, Ph.D., U.S. Department of State
  • Pranava Raparla, Department of Energy
  • Scott Riffle, Department of Defense
  • Arushi Saxena, Office of Management and Budget
  • Matthew R. Versaggi, MS, MBA, Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services
  • Rebecca N. White, U.S. Department of Justice

“The breakthroughs we’re making in computing and artificial intelligence are super-exciting and, in my opinion, substantively different from prior revolutions in technology,” said Presidential Innovation Fellow Dr. James Pavur. “I believe government is the place where technologists have the greatest chance of helping those developments bring equitable and safe benefits to all people.”

This is the second PIF cohort this year. This first cohort, like previous years, included a broader technology focus while this cohort is the first to focus exclusively on artificial intelligence. Past fellows are known for applying their expertise in data science, design, engineering, product, and systems thinking to tackle hard problems such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing customer experience in healthcare, improving national nutrition programs, and enabling programs to serve constituents quicker after national disasters.

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition’s Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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